Viennese Basilisk

“Basiliskos”, the Greek word for “little king”, referred to the king of serpents. It was not until the Middle Ages that the basilisk became a mythical and lethal creature, which supposedly lurked in cellars, wells, and shafts.
The Viennese basilisk was found in the cellars of the NHM again in the 1990s. The mock-up is shaped using a dried ray: the nostrils have been made into “eyes”, the pectoral fins into “wings” and the sexual organs into “basilisk legs”. The result looks very like a famous illustration in a book of fish dating back to the 16th century.
Hall XXV

© NHM Wien, Kurt Kracher