GRIFFIN, n. An animal having the body and legs of a beast and the head and wings of a bird. It is now thought to be extinct, though Arsene Marsil saw one as lately as 1783, in the Vosges. Its fossil remains in singular preservation are so frequently found in the ruins of ancient cities that many eminent scientists (including Drs. Harkness and Behr, of the California Academy of Sciences) suppose it to have been generally domesticated. Linnaeus, following Pliny, calls it the Quadrupavis amalgamata mirabilis, but the learned Professor of Natural History at the Berkeley University ingeniously points out that it belongs to the genus Aquileo. Like the mule (Asinequus ostinatus) the griffin owed nothing to the Creator: it was the result of an entangling alliance between the eagle and the lion.
2010 Update: An animal that looked like a lion in departure and a canary on approach. It is speculated to have been a forbear of the modern manager (Homo intoxicus.)
Update: An uninfernal birthday to Ambrose Bierce.