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Artist's impression of a peryton.

The peryton is a mythological hybrid animal combining the physical features of a stag and a bird. The peryton was first named by Jorge Luis Borges in his 1957 Book of Imaginary Beings, using a supposedly long-lost medieval manuscript as a source.[citation needed]


The peryton is said to have the head, neck, forelegs and antlers of a stag, combined with the plumage, wings and hindquarters of a large bird, although some interpretations portray the peryton as a deer in all but coloration and bird's wings.

According to Borges, perytons lived in Atlantis until an earthquake destroyed the civilization and the creatures escaped by flight. A peryton casts the shadow of a man until it kills one during its lifetime, at which time it starts to cast its own shadow. A sibyl once prophesied that the perytons would lead to the downfall of Rome.[1]

In Borges' original Spanish edition, the word is given as peritio so the presumptive Latin original would be peritius, which happens to be the Latin form of the Greek name of the fourth month on the ancient Macedonian calendar[2] (Peritios, moon of January). The connection of this, if any, to the peryton is unclear. As at least one depiction of the Peryton - namely on the late medieval battle standard of the Dukes of Bourbon[3] - pre-dates Borges' description, he clearly was not its inventor, though the creature's exact origins remain unclear.

In popular culture[edit]

Perytons are found or used in modern literature and games.

Books and manga[edit]



  • The term peryton is also used for radio signals of terrestrial origin that mimic fast radio bursts, pulses that appear to be coming from outside of our galaxy.[6] These perytons were found to be the result of premature opening of a microwave oven door, which releases a frequency-swept radio pulse, which mimics a fast radio burst, as the magnetron turns off.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nigg, Joseph (2002). The Book of Dragons & Other Mythical Beasts (1st ed.). Hauppauge, NY: Barron's. p. 91. ISBN 9780764155109.
  2. ^ Περίτιος
  3. ^ Wise, Terence: Medieval European Armies, Oxford: Osprey Publishing 2004, colour plate H1 & p. 39 (= Men-at-Arms Series, vol. 50).
  4. ^ ASIN 0786935669
  5. ^ Kelly, Charles (26 January 2011). "Hollow Earth - A Great Read and Brilliant Promotion for Cumbrae". Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  6. ^ Sarah Burke-Spolaor; Matthew Bailes; Ronald Ekers; Jean-Pierre Macquart; Fronefield Crawford III (2010). "Radio Bursts with Extragalactic Spectral Characteristics Show Terrestrial Origins". The Astrophysical Journal. 727: 18. arXiv:1009.5392. Bibcode:2011ApJ...727...18B. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/727/1/18. S2CID 35469082.
  7. ^ Emily Petroff; E. F. Keane; E. D. Barr; J. E. Reynolds; J. Sarkissian; P. G. Edwards; J. Stevens; C. Brem; A. Jameson; Sarah Burke-Spolaor; S. Johnston; N. D. R. Bhat; P. Chandra; S. Kudale; S. Bhandari (2015). "Identifying the source of perytons at the Parkes radio telescope". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 451 (4): 3933–3940. arXiv:1504.02165. Bibcode:2015MNRAS.451.3933P. doi:10.1093/mnras/stv1242.