The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 68v - De scitali serpente; Of the snake called scitalis. De anphivena; Of the anphivena. De ydro; Of the ydrus.

Folio 69r - the ydrus, continued. De boa angue; Of the snake called boas.

Help Copyright


To explore the image, simply click the image to zoom, double-click to zoom out, or click-drag to pan. You can also zoom in and out using the mouse scroll wheel.


(Alt is Option on Macintosh)

  • Alt-click-drag to create a zoom-rectangle
  • Alt-click / Alt-double-click to zoom fully in / out
  • Alt-click-Reset button to return to the prior view

The thumbnail view in the top left can also be clicked or click-dragged to pan.

Keyboard shortcuts:

  • a to zoom in
  • z to zoom out
  • Arrow keys pan around the image
  • Escape resets initial view or exits fullscreen

Toolbar buttons

Use the Toolbar for exact navigation - if using a mouse, hold it over any button to see a helpful tip.

Zoom out

Zoom in

Pan left

Pan right

Pan up

Pan down

Reset Image

Full screen view

View translation alongside image

View double page - bi folio

Download image for personal, research or teaching purposes


Commentary, Translation and Transcription

These sections are located below the image on each page, scroll down page and click on the tabs to view them. It is also possible to view the translation alongside the image by clicking the translation icon in the toolbar

It is not part of the project to provide a definitive edition of the text of the Bestiary, but to help readers by providing a transcription and translation of the text. Currently the following editorial conventions obtain:


  1. The original capitalisation is retained, but capitals have been added for personal and place names, excluding deus and diabolus.
  2. The original punctuation, including a point and inverted semi-colon (both serving as commas), and a point (serving as a full stop), is represented by comma, full stop and question-mark; a colon has been inserted before quotations.
  3. Suggested readings are in [ ].
  4. Variants from other Bestiary texts (eg Ashmole 1511 and Patrologia Latina 176) are added where they indicate a corruption, elucidate a meaning and replace excised text. They are represented as [A: PL:]


  1. Direct quotations from the Bible, where identified, are cited from the Authorised Version in ( ).
  2. Paraphrased quotations are identified where possible and indicated as: (see Job, 18:22).
  3. Suggested translations of corrupt words are in [ ].
  4. Capitalisation is sparing; additional punctuation has been used where necessary to give the sense. Paragraphs have been created to break up the text.


Scitalis has a glittering skin. The Anphivena has two heads, one at each end. The Ydrus lives in the Nile.


Three pictures. The scitalis has a dog's head, wings and two feet. The anphivena is shown with two heads, wings and claws. The ydrus is killing a crocodile by crawling into its mouth and tearing it apart.


In the margin, beside the scitalis text is the sketch of a pointed reptile's wing. Anphivena are in fact limbless lizards, wormlike creatures with rounded head and tail and can move in two directions. This animal is pricked for pouncing. No animal attacks the crocodile in the manner described by the ydrus but the large Nile monitor lizard eats crocodile eggs, and the many types of Nilotic worm crawl in and out of the flesh of dead animals. The word 'ictrie' is written on the body of ydrus. This means icturus or jaundice yellow. Red 'S' and 'A' in the left margin are guides for the initial, type 2.


The ydris kills crocodiles. Boas kill by sucking the life out of cows through their udders. The jaculus.


The boa is designed as a spiral coiled lizard, with wings and feet. The jaculus, which is a snake that flies from trees, is shown as a lifeless stick. The black and green whip snake climbs, jumps and swims. It is called a flying serpent although it merely leaps.Marginal correction, top right, percussi [supplies omission 'struck']. Initial type 2.