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Lizard-lions

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"If you're lucky enough to be armored, you'll only drown inside your own steel. If you're not, you'll get to meet what swims in that water... serpents and monstruous lizard-lions with teeth like daggers and never enough to eat."
―Meera Reed[src]
Howland Reed ToJ

Howland Reed wears a clasp on his cloak shaped like the sigil of his House, a black lizard-lion.

Lizard-lions are large carnivorous reptiles that live in the bogs and swamps of the Neck in Westeros. House Reed, the ruling house of the Crannogmen, employ as their sigil a black lizard-lion on a grey-green field.[1]

Range

Lizard-lions are only found in the swamps of the Neck, the narrow isthmus that connects the North to the rest of Westeros.

Biology

Lizard-lions are semi-aquatic reptiles, so-named because they grow to the size of Lions and, like them, are carnivorous.

Lizard-lions have also been known to attack unwary men who wander through the marshes and bogs of the Neck.

In heraldry

Reed Sigil

The sigil of House Reed showing a lizard-lion.

The Lizard-lion is the sigil of House Reed, a noble house of crannogmen that rules the Neck as vassals of House Stark.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, lizard-lions are the only species of crocodilian known to inhabit the entire continent of Westeros - it is unknown if similar species exist in the other continents. Like their real-life analogues, they are ambush predators that hunt by lying entirely still in the water, resembling floating logs.

Exactly what kind of crocodilian lizard-lions are supposed to represent is unknown: for some time it was unknown if names such as "crocodile", "alligator", or "caiman" exist in their fictional world. Therefore it was unclear if "Lizard-lion" was simply their in-universe term for "crocodile", or a unique fictional variant of possibly much larger size. Author George R.R. Martin has stated that not every species of animal in Westeros has a direct one-for-one equivalent to a real-life species of animal. For example, Martin said that shadowcats have no direct real-life analogue: they are larger than cougars (mountain lions) but smaller than tigers, and don't look quite like either.

The World of Ice and Fire sourcebook (2014) answered this by referring to both "lizard-lions" in the Neck and "crocodiles" in Sothoryos. Thus "lizard-lion" isn't simply their term for "crocodiles". It's possible that lizard-lions are larger than regular crocodile much as direwolves are larger than common wolves - or like shadowcats, they could just be a fantasy variant of other crocodilians.

Another species of large reptile exists in the jungles of Yi Ti in eastern Essos, known as "basilisks", apparently roughly dog-sized and venomous. Many have been imported to Qarth or Slaver's Bay where they are set against dogs in fighting pits for entertainment. They may be only distantly related to lizard-lions.

In the first book, as the Stark-Baratheon caravan passes south over the Neck, corresponding to the episode "The Kingsroad", Arya Stark says that she hopes to see a lizard-lion. In the second book, when Meera and Jojen Reed join Bran Stark, Bran is curious about lizard-lions and asks them what they are like, as they don't live in the cold regions north of the swamps.

Legends about the Marsh Kings of the crannogmen during the Age of Heroes say that they actually rode lizard-lions as mounts, though these are generally dismissed as mere legends. This may be a distorted memory, however, of skinchangers among the crannogmen magically controlling lizard-lions with their minds.

See also

References