For the folklore of real-life animals, see under each individual species. Two forms can occur: beliefs about the *luck or ill luck the animal brings or foretells, and ideas about its biology and behaviour which, though mistaken, are not superstitious but merely popular fallacies. The latter often have a long history in books as well as oral tradition. Also, pious legends about animals and birds explain their markings or behaviour by association with Jesus (see *donkey, *robin). The haddock and the dory both have a black spot behind each gill, said to be the marks of St Peter's thumb and forefinger as he held the fish to extract a coin from its mouth (Matthew 17: 7) - a tale recorded in the 17th century, but probably medieval.
   There are many supernatural creatures in animal form, some being shape-changing *boggarts and *fairies, others human *ghosts, others demonic; each account has to be separately assessed.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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