Can You Identify the Animals in the Coat of Arms?

By: Monica Lee
Image: Caranorn via Wiki Commons/Delta-9vi a Wiki Commons/Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

In the 12th century, coats of arms could be seen on knights and minor feudal lords who went into battle. Within another century, families were using coats of arms to represent their entire clan. The families flew flags that carried the symbol above their castles and manors. But of course, this honor was not afforded to just anyone. Only the highest classes of people in medieval Europe used coats of arms, as they were the only ones with ancestors distinguished enough to be granted use by the king himself. Once a family started using a coat of arms, it was passed down through the generations. 

It's interesting to note that each part of the coat of arms has a specific meaning. As most people were illiterate at that time, the coat of arms needed to convey in a glance the history, achievements and characteristics that the family valued. Animals or objects were used to describe personality traits - brave as a lion, for example. The colors were used as symbols of character, for instance, gold being generous, or blue as the color of loyalty. 

Which animal would represent you? See if you can identify the animals on these coats of arms. You'll gain insight into how people centuries ago, viewed the wildlife around them. They even used mythical creatures to describe their personality traits! Find out more by taking this quiz.  

Animals were frequently used as a main charge in coats of arms. Usually the animals chosen were fierce and ferocious looking or they represented positive traits such as wisdom, resourcefulness and loyalty. The one pictured here symbolizes strength, cunning and ferocity in the protection of one's kindred.

The animals on crests were shown in certain traditional postures, usually in positions of combat.This one is a boar, which symbolizes bravery and the mindset to fight to the death. It also symbolizes hospitality.

There were those coat of arms or emblems that were more sophisticated than symbolizing brute strength. This one is of the dolphin, which represents swiftness, diligence, salvation, charity and love.

The white dove is biblical. It represents the Holy Spirit. And with an olive branch in its bill, it signifies a harbinger of good tidings as well as loving constancy and peace.

The bald eagle symbolizes so much in the U.S., but on this emblem it represents a person of noble nature, strength, bravery, and alertness. If wings are displayed, it signifies protection. An eagle with two heads symbolizes conjoining forces.

When a coat of arms bears an elephant, it symbolizes great strength, wit, longevity, happiness, royalty, good luck and ambition.

A coat of arms that contains a fish means the wearer is true, generous and virtuous for himself. The fish can also symbolize the unity with Christ and spiritual nourishment.

A coat of arms with an emblem of a fox can signify a person who will use all that he/she may possess of wisdom and wit in his/her own defense. Clever as a fox comes to mind.

Spotting a hawk or falcon on a coat of arms can only mean one thing, the person will not rest until they achieve their objective. You don't want to get in this person's way.

The horse on a coat of arms signifies something similar to a solider: readiness for all employments for king and country.

There are layers of meaning if you see a lamb on a coat of arms. It symbolizes gentleness and patience under suffering. A lamb carrying a staff or banner with a cross is a paschal lamb, which represents faith, innocence and bravery.

You'll immediately know more about a person when you see them wearing this leopard emblem. They are a valiant and hardy warrior who enterprises hazardous things by force and courage.

From the Wizard of Oz and the cowardly lion who needed courage, to storybooks about the king of the jungle, the lion on this coat of arms has similar symbolism as today, it represents dauntless bravery.

Don't insult the family of anyone with a panther on their coat of arms. A panther is fierce but tender and loving to children and will defend her children with her life.

A stag or stag’s antlers symbolizes someone who will not fight unless provoked. They represent peace and harmony as well as strength and fortitude.

When you see the swallow on a coat of arms, you may recognize the person as prompt and ready to do business. He or she can also be the bearer of good tidings.

The grace and perfection of a swan is what this coat of arms signifies. It also represents poetic harmony and sincerity as well as the light of learning.

Although it doesn't look courageous, fierce or full of wisdom, the tortoise on a coat of arms invokes the feeling of invulnerability to attack.

You don't want to mess around with someone who wears the emblem that contains a tiger. It symbolizes fierceness and valor as well as resentment. It is dangerous if aroused.

It wasn't unusual for mythological creatures to be found on coats of arms and crests. These creatures, too, had special significance. For instance, the centaur spoke to eminence in the field of battle.

Another common mythological animal is the dragon. It denotes a valiant defender of treasure as well as valor and protection. One may also see the wyvern (sometimes spelled wivern), which is a winged two-legged dragon with a barbed tail.

A griffin is a mythological creature that has the head, wings, and talons of an eagle along with the body of a lion. It combines the symbolism of both animals: valor, courage, vigilance and death-defying bravery.

Harpies have a virgin's face, neck and breast with the body of a lion. If you were to see this on a coat of arms, you would know the person wearing it is fierce under provocation.

A hydra is a dragon with seven heads. According to Greek mythology, when one of its heads was cut off, two new heads appeared. To wear a hydra is to conjure the idea of conquest of a very powerful enemy

If you were to see a mermaid on a coat of arms, you would know it represents eloquence. It's interesting to note that the Starbucks logo is a mermaid.

The mythical, winged, divine stallion, the Pegasus, denotes poetic genius and inspiration. It is a messenger of the gods.

The phoenix is a bird that rises from the ashes of its predecessor, as told in Greek mythology. Thus, on an emblem it is a symbol of resurrection.

In Greek tradition, the sphinx has the head of a human, the haunches of a lion and sometimes the wings of a bird. In the Greek myths, it is characterized as treacherous and merciless, although on a coat of arms it is thought to be all-knowing and secretive.

Seeing a unicorn on a coat of arms is a rare thing indeed. It represents extreme courage, virtue and strength.

The black wings extended and its open mouth could intimidate anyone. Fear was what the bat would conjure on a coat of arms. It was used to inspire panic in enemies.

To wear this coat of arms, you and your family represent valor, bravery and generosity. The horns themselves represent strength and fortitude. You would wear this symbol with pride.

The world loves otters because their image denotes the serious traits of industry and perseverance, as well as an ability to return to moments of play. The otter is most often found as a symbol in Scottish and Irish coats of arms among other countries.

Displaying this symbol indicates the wearer carries authority and leadership, as well as power and nobility. The ram is often shown in a rampant, or in the fighting position.

Depending on its species, an ant can lift up to 100 times its weight! That is why the ant symbolizes great labor as well as wisdom and providence in one’s affairs.

Wearing the coat of arms that display the symbol of a donkey means the person and their family have both patience and humility.

The beaver represents an industrious family who are tenacious and have perseverance to accomplish the task at hand. Think of the beaver and how it cuts down trees to build a dam each year as an example.

If you've heard of cock fights, you know how ferocious a cock can be. The cock, or cockerel, also represents courage and perseverance which also extends to being nimble in politics.

The emblem that carries the grasshopper symbolizes the noble and home-bred. If you dream about a grasshopper, it can mean that you are learning important things in your life.

Beauty, power and knowledge are what the peacock symbolizes on a crest or coat of arms. This bird is spectacular when it spreads its wings, it receives admiration from us all.

The wolf has many fine qualities. It is part of a pack and family is of importance. The wolf symbolizes reward from perseverance in long sieges and/or throughout hard times.

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