Lindorm

Wingless Dragon or unknown Lizard of Northern Europe.

Etymology: Swedish, lind ("flexible body") + orm ("serpent").

Variant names: Drage (Norway), Drake (Sweden), Lindwurm (Germany), Vassorm (Norway).

Physical description: Serpentine. Length, 10-28 feet. Body is heavy and as thick as a man's thigh. Black color. Head is like that of a pike fish. Older specimens have a crest or mane that is black to gray in color and parted in the middle. Large, saucer-shaped, red or yellow eyes that shine with reflected light. Short, protruding ears on the top of the head. Square nose. Forked tongue. Mouth is full of white teeth. Sacks of skin hang from the corners of the mouth. Bristles or whiskers are on the chin. Yellow belly. Tail is short and stubby.

Behavior: Primarily terrestrial but often seen in water. Swims with a horizontal movement, its head 2 feet above the water. Has a hypnotic or paralyzing gaze. Ill tempered and pugnacious. Snorts like a horse. Hisses when alarmed. Before attacking, it contracts its body and then rises up 4—6 feet on its tail and pounces. Spits a poisonous liquid. Its carcass has a repugnant stench.

Tracks: Makes well-worn trails that look as if a log had been dragged along the ground.

Habitat: Lakes, swamps, mountains, rocky areas.

Distribution: Kronoberg and Jönköping Counties, Sweden, including Asnen, Rottnen, Öjen, and Helgasjön Lakes; parts of Norway and Finland.

Significant sightings: In the fall of 1826, Daniel Nilsson, of Odensö, Kronoberg County, had a difficult and lengthy struggle with a Lind-orm in the forest of Ulvehult.

Walking to their boathouse in August 1869, Magnus Bergström and Karin Svensdotter noticed a black snake in the grass. After poking it with a stick, Bergström realized it was a Lind-orm when it opened its mouth 11 inches wide and showed its forked tongue; the creature hissed, rose upright, and rushed at him. After a long fight, Bergström killed it with a stick. Its mouth was full of fangs about the size of a man's little finger, and it had a mane of scales pointed like horsehair. The carcass began to stink almost immediately.

In November 1878, a Lindorm was killed in Husaby Forest, Kronoberg, by the farmer Johan Jonsson of Hakadal.

In 1883, Lindorms were seen near Hinneryd, Urshult, Kalvsvik, the estate of Skäggalösa Pers-gärd, and Husaby Forest, all in Kronoberg County, Sweden.

Gunnar Olof Hylten-Cavallius organized a

294 lindorm hunt for witnesses of the Lindorm from 1883 to 1885. He uncovered forty-eight individuals who had memories of seeing these animals from the 1820s to the 1880s. Possible explanations:

(1) Said by Erik Pontoppidan to be a juvenile Sea Monster, which travels downstream to the sea like an eel when it matures.

(2) Hallucinations, folktales, or misidentifications.

Sources: Erik Pontoppidan, The Natural History of Norway (London: A. Linde, 1755), vol. 2, pp. 38-39, 195-208; Gunnar Olof Hylten-Cavallius, Om draken eller lindormen: Memoire till Kongliga Vetenskaps-akademien (Vaxjo, Sweden, 1884-1885); Johan Theodor Storaker, Naturrigerne i den norske Folketro (Oslo: Norsk Folkeminnelag, 1926), pp. 243-249; Martin Bjorndal, Segn og tru: Folkeminne fra More (Oslo: Norsk Folkeminnelag, 1949), pp. 84-87; Reidar Thoralf Christiansen, The Migratory Legends (Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1958), pp. 49-52; Aukusti V. Rantasalo, Einige Zaubersteine und Zauberpflanzen im Volksaberglauben der Finnen (Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1959), pp. 26-31; Sven Rosen, "The Dragons of Sweden," Fate 35 (April 1982): 36-45; Michel Muerger, "In Jormungandra's Coils: A Cultural Archaeology of the Norse Sea Serpent," Fortean Times, no. 51 (Winter 1988-1989): 63-68; Karl Shuker, Dragons: A Natural History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), pp. 40-43.

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