Zoological Nomenclature of Ice and Fire

Evangelos Vlachos

CONICET & Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio, Trelew, Chubut, Argentina.

Email: evlacho (at) mef (dot) org (dot) ar

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Valar gūrēñis — All men must learn

The diversity of the World of Ice and Fire (Westeros, Essos and the other continents combined) is remarkable. All kinds of species of animals and plants are known, including some mythical creatures. The purpose of this contribution is to provide a system of nomenclature for the most important animal species from the World of Ice and Fire. This new system is based on the High Valyrian language, and aims to provide a set of names that can be applied to the various species of life that survived, or even became extinct, in this world.

The World of Ice and Fire is a fictional world. Although most of the wild and domesticated animals are the same or similar to our own, there several animals that are unique to it. Also, more than one ‘species’ of humans survive in this world, now mostly isolated in remote islands like Ibben and the Sothoryos. The Common Tongue, spoken mainly in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, is given to us through the books in English; but this doesn’t mean that it is English. Even if a direwolf is called a direwolf in the books, it probably sounded differently in the Common Tongue.

Back to our world, following the pioneering work of C. Linnaeus in 1758 the need of a stable and universal system of biological nomenclature became necessary. Since then, a set of rules has been created, revised, used and applied to Zoological Nomenclature, forming the so-called International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN, or simply ‘the Code’). The latest edition was published in 1999, and some parts of the Code have been recently (2012) amended to include names and acts published in electronic-only journals.

I will briefly present the main features of this system of nomenclature for those not entirely familiar with it. The backbone concept of nomenclature is the binomen: each species name is formed by two components, the genus name and the specific name; both are written in italics and the genus name is capitalized (e.g., Homo sapiens). The ICZN offers a graphical summary of the whole process of naming animal taxa[1], which is summarized in Box 1 below. The reader should, of course, consult the Code for further details.

Box 1. Basic steps for naming taxa

  1. The name must be contained in a published work (published sensu the ICZN);
  2. The name must be available (sensu the ICZN);
  3. The name must be properly formed, following the instructions of the ICZN.

Names that do not conform these rules are unavailable names (including the so-called ‘naked names’), and can be made available later for the same or different concept. If these conditions are met, the available names enter the zoological literature. Once part of the literature, the names ‘compete’ for validity, which mainly refers to the so-called ‘Principle of Priority’. Simply put, the oldest available name applied to a taxon is the valid name for this taxon (Art. 23.1, ICZN). The other names are invalid names, including synonyms, homonyms, and dubious names. Of course, in real life things are not so simple, as there are several exemptions from these rules and a multitude of complicated cases; the Code contains numerous articles and examples that try to account for all these situations.

Obviously, the purpose of this article is to propose a set of names for the animals of the World of Ice and Fire, but a curious reader might ask: do those names also become part of the ‘real life’ zoological nomenclature? The answer is no, these names will not form part of the zoological nomenclature for the main following reasons:

  1. As the Journal of Geek Studies is an electronic publication, any name (or nomenclatural act) published in it should conform to the rules of Art. 8.5 (ICZN) for works published/distributed electronically. But it fails to conform to the provisions of the sub-article 8.5.3, which mandates the registration of the work and the names on the Official Register of Zoological Nomenclature (a.k.a. ZooBank).
  2. Even though several of the animals of the World of Ice and Fire are referred to the Common Tongue with similar names and concepts of wild and domesticated animals that exist or existed in our world (e.g., a dog, a horse, a mammoth), those animals are actually purely hypothetical concepts (sensu Art. 1.3.1, ICZN) that exist in the fantasy World of Ice and Fire and the mind of G.R.R. Martin. Thus, they are excluded from the zoological nomenclature.
  3. The names, as published herein, are not formed properly according to the Code. Both words are capitalized, not italicized, with diacritic signs, and are connected by a dash.

Therefore, all the names herein are unavailable names for our ‘real life’ zoological nomenclature. I suppose that a similar need of a system of nomenclature would be eventually necessary in the World of Ice and Fire as well, most probably among its scholars—the Maesters. The study of the natural world has largely been neglected by the great Maesters of the Citadel, in Oldtown. Maester Yandel in his work (Martin et al., 2014) provides some basic information on various animals — in many cases by citing other authors — but without any specific focus on nature. However, one cannot understand and explain the mysteries of the world, unless they are able to explain and describe the life on it. Therefore, and to avoid misunderstandings among Maesters across the continent, this new system of nomenclature would greatly assist in the communication among scholars in the World of Ice and Fire.

I strongly insist that the Maesters of the Citadel should try to promote the study of the natural mysteries of the world. I further propose that the Maester who will complete the study of a significant portion of the natural world should be awarded a wooden link to add to his chain. This link should be made by a weirwood tree and would symbolize that all life on the World is related, and originated from a common root, just like the branches and leaves of a weirwood tree.


In order to differ from the common, vernacular, names of the animals in the Common Tongue of the World of Ice and Fire, their scientific names will be created in the High Valyrian.

The Valyrian languages are a group of languages that were spoken in the past, with High Valyrian being spoken in Valyria and its descendants languages (Astapori and Meereenesse Valyrian) spoken in Astapor and Meereen respectively, as well as a variety of dialects and corruptions of the pure High Valyrian spoken in the Free Cities (Martin et al., 2014). Although several words in High Valyrian were already present in the books of the series The Song of Ice and Fire written by G.R.R. Martin, the language was created by D.J. Peterson for the TV series (Peterson, 2013).

For the purpose of establishing the ‘Zoological Nomenclature of Ice and Fire’, the names will be written in High Valyrian, with the use of the letters of the Latin alphabet (High Valyrian was certainly written in its own alphabet). The source of linguistic information is the Dothraki Wiki (2018; information stored therein is copyrighted by the Language Creation Society, HBO, and G.R.R. Martin).

The main objective of this work is to name the main species of animals (e.g., the species of humans) and also provide some names for large groups (e.g., a name for ‘mammals’). The basic information comes from the bestiary of A Wiki of Ice and Fire (2018, and references therein). Parts of this work have been preliminary published in the subreddit r/asoiaf (https://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/) by the author, under the alias E_v_a_n (2017, and references therein). Very few names have been proposed by some other redditors and they are not included herein. The terms ‘species’, ‘subspecies’, and ‘genus’ are used in a similar sense as in modern taxonomy and nomenclature for simplicity.

The various names were created based on the following basic rules and recommendations, which are illustrated by examples where necessary. The formation of the majority these rules is based largely on valuable comments of David J. Peterson, whom I deeply thank.

Rule 1. Names for large groups consist of a single word, whereas names for ‘species’ consist of two words. Example: Valar for humans, Sylvie-Valar for the wise humans, which is included in Valar.

Rule 2. The two words comprising the ‘species’ names are hyphenated and each start with a capital letter. We do not know if such kind of punctuation was present in High Valyrian. The purpose of adding the hyphen here is mainly to distinguish these names from original binomina in nomenclature.

Rule 3. Group names are written in small capitals. This rule is only for stylistic purposes.

Rule 4. All original diacritics of High Valyrian must be kept. Besides its stylistic purpose, the application of this rule further distinguishes the names herein from original names in nomenclature.

Rule 5. Formation of group names is done either with nouns in the collective or adjectives with the addition of the derivational affix –enka (meaning ‘like’). Example A: To form the name of the group of humans (‘equivalent’ to a genus name) we could use the word ‘vala’ (1lun; man) in the collective, as Valar. Example B: To form the name of the group of reptile-like animals we could use the word ‘rīza’ (1lun; reptile, lizard) with the addition of the derivational affix –enka (adj. I), as Rīzenka. Note that in this case we need to use only the root of the word ‘rīza’ (rīz–).

Rule 6. Formation of a species name is done with the combination of an adjective and a noun in the collective. Note that adjectives must agree in gender (i.e., lunar, solar, terrestrial, aquatic), case, and number, with the noun they modify; however, as the noun is in the collective, the adjective should be in the singular. Also, the adjective goes before the noun it modifies. Example A: To create the name for the wise humans we could use the combination of the noun ‘Valar’ (1lun; ‘all the men’, in the collective) with the adjective ‘Sylvie’ (adj. III). The singular of this adjective would be ‘Sylvie’ for lunar/solar and ‘Sylvior’ for terrestrial/aquatic (in the singular; see Rule 5 above). As the word ‘Valar’ is of lunar gender, it should be combined with the adjective in the lunar gender as well, as Sylvie-Valar. Example B: To create an adjective from a noun one should use one of the derivational affixes like –enka (adj. I) (see Rule 5). Again, there must be agreement in gender.

Rule 7. To create a name that consists of three components (‘equivalent’ to a subspecies or for other purposes), insert the third component in its proper place according to the desired meaning, again in agreement to Rule 6. Example: For the name of the white walkers, supposedly a further subdivision of the wise humans, we could use the name Sylvie-Valar, inserting in between the adjective ‘Timpa’ (adj. I) in the lunar gender and in singular, as Sylvie-Timpa-Valar. In this arrangement it reads: ‘all the wise white men’. Contrary to our own nomenclature, the position of the components may vary depending on the desired meaning. For example, ‘all the white wise men’ would read as Timpa-Sylvie-Valar. Both versions are equivalent for nomenclatural purposes herein.

Rule 8. To form a name from a toponym, one should add the derivational suffix –sīha, or –īha (depending if the root ends in consonant or vowel), to form an adjective of Class I. It then follows in agreement to Rule 6. Alternatively — and this could be done with other names as well, not only with toponyms — one could use the derivational suffix –ōñe (which means ‘from the’) to form a Class II adjective. Example A: To name the species of humans from Ibben, we could add the suffix –īha, as Ibbenīha-Valar. In this form it reads: ‘all the Ibbenian humans’. Example B: Ibbenōñe-Valar. In this form, it reads: ‘all the humans from Ibben’. This is a quite useful suffix to form many other names as well (see below).

All original information below comes from The Song of Ice and Fire books (Martin, 1996, 2000, 2005, 2011) and The World of Ice and Fire (Martin et al., 2014). For simplicity, I will not add these citations below.

The relationships among the main ‘species’ named herein are depicted across the branches of a weirwood tree (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. The taxonomy of the animals of the World of Ice and Fire, depicted on the branches of a weirwood tree.

The maps presented herein (Figs. 2 and 4) are based on the original map available in Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0), which was subsequently edited in Adobe Photoshop (removing words) and Adobe Illustrator (tracing) to create the final ‘clean’ version for this article. Silhouettes of animals are re-drawn manually from pictures available online with permission to be modified.

Figure 2. The distribution of known animal species in the World of Ice and Fire, excluding those with cosmopolitan distribution.

Abbreviations: Nouns: numbers denote the declension, followed by the abbreviated gender (aq, aquatic; lun, lunar; sol, solar; ter, terrestrial). Adjectives (adj.): Roman numerals indicate the class.



(all the names; from the noun ‘brōzi’, 5lun, meaning ‘name’)

Dȳñenka, animals.

Etymology. Dȳñenka, from the word ‘dȳñes’ (4sol; animal) and the suffix –enka (adj. I), which means ‘like’; altogether the name means ‘animal-like’.

Remarks. The distribution of the animals of the World of Ice and Fire is shown in Figure 2. Those with a roughly cosmopolitan distribution (e.g., horses) were excluded for simplicity.

Jūlrenka, mammal-like animals.

Etymology. Jūlrenka, from the word ‘jūlor’ (3aq; milk) and the suffix –enka (adj. I).

Uēpys-Nusper, all the ancient cows or aurochs.

Etymology. Uēpys from the adjective ‘uēpa’ (adj. I; old); Nusper from the nominative collective of the noun ‘nuspes’ (4sol; cow).

Remarks. This is the ancestor of the modern-day cows, and was larger, with longer and more robust horns. Although not present in most of Westeros as a result of domestication, their presence is reported beyond the Wall, and are served in feasts in some of the Great Houses of the North.

Lantarōvatsienkys-Ñomber, all the elephants with two big teeth.

Etymology. Lantarōvatsienkys, from the combination of the words ‘lanta’ (adj. I; two), ‘rova’ (adj. I; big), ‘atsio’ (3lun; tooth), and the suffix –enkys, referring to the animals’ large tusks; Ñomber from the noun ‘ñombes’ (4sol; elephant).

Remarks. Native to Essos, quite common in Astapor.

Krubenkys-Ñombītsor, all the dwarf elephants.

Etymology. Krubenkys, from of the word ‘krubo’ (3lun; dwarf) and the suffix –enkys; Ñombītsor from the noun ‘ñombes’ (4sol; elephant) and the diminutive suffix –ītsos (2sol), in the collective.

Remarks. Related to elephants, but never reaching a large size; used as transportation in Volantis.

Timpa-Kēlior, all the white lions or hrakkars.

Etymology. Timpa from the adjective ‘timpa’ (adj. I; white); Kēlior, from the collective of the noun ‘kēlio’ (3lun; lion).

Remarks. A rare species of white lion, native to the Dothraki Sea.

Dothrakōñe-Anner, all the horses of the Dothraki.

Etymology. Dothrakōñe, from the Dothraki, the horselords, and the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Anner, from the nominative collective of the word ‘anne’ (4lun; horse).

Remarks. Widespread on the entire world, medium of transportation, and used in combat as well. They are especially important for the Dothraki horselords.

Rizmenkys-Annītsor, all the dwarf horses of the sand or sand steeds.

Etymology. Rizmenkys the word ‘rizmon’ (3ter; sand) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I); Annītsor from the word ‘anne’ (4lun; horse) and the diminutive suffix –ītsos (2sol) in the collective.

Remarks. Long neck, narrow head, slim and swift, with red, golden, black or pale fur. Bred in Dorne.

Starkenka-Zoklar, all the wolves of the Starks or direwolves.

Etymology. Starkenka, from the name of House Stark, whose sigil is the direwolf, and the suffix –enka (adj. I); Zoklar from the nominative collective of the word ‘zokla’ (1lun; wolf).

Remarks. An ancient relative of the common wolf, but much more robust and strong. Absent south of the Wall. However, a dead female direwolf was found south of the Wall; Ned Stark’s children and Jon Snow were allowed to keep and raise the pups (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. The first known occurrences of Starkenka-Zoklar south of the Wall, seen here as two pups of a female direwolf. A typical example of Sylvie-Ēlie-Valar (Jon Snow) for scale. Screen capture from Episode #1 (‘Winter is Coming’), Season #1, of Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011–present).

Qohorōñe-Valyrītsor, all the Little Valyrians from Qohor.

Etymology. Qohorōñe from Qohor and the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Valyrītsor from the word Valyria and the diminutive suffix –ītsos (2sol) in the collective.

Remarks. Lemur-like primates with silver-white fur and purple eyes, living in the forest of Qohor.

Lannenka-Kēlior, all the lions of the Lannisters.

Etymology. Lannenka from Lann the Clever, founder of House Lannister whose sigil has a golden lion, and the suffix –enka (adj. I); Kēlior, from the collective of the word ‘kēlio’ (3lun; lion).

Ōgharenkys-Ñomber, all the great woolly elephants or mammoths.

Etymology. Ōgharenkys, from the word ‘ōghar’ (1aq; hair) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I); Ñomber, see above.

Remarks. Related to elephants, but more robust, with thick fur and curved tusks, from beyond the Wall. Giants usually ride them.

Sōnōñe-Gryver, all the snow bears.

Etymology. Sōnōñe, from the word ‘sōna’ (1lun; snow) and the suffix –ōñe; Gryver from the collective of the word ‘gryves’ (4sol; bear).

Remarks. Related to the brown bears, but adapted to survive in the cold environments beyond the Wall.

Μēremolrenkys-Epser, all the goats with a single horn or unicorns.

Etymology. Μēremolrenkys from the combination of the words ‘mēre’ (one) and ‘molry’ (2lun; horn) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I); Epser, from the nominative collective of the word ‘epses’ (4sol; goat).

Remarks. Goat-like animals with a single horn, believed to survive in Skagos and on the tall mountains of Ib. This disjointed distribution could be explained by two hypotheses: either they are native to one island and their presence on the other is explained by human interference; or this animal used to be widely distributed in the past (perhaps in times when the sea-level was lower and the two islands were connected to each other or to the mainland), and the present distributions are remnants.

Zōbritimpa-Anner, all the black-and-white horses or zorses.

Etymology. Zōbritimpa from the combination of the words ‘zōbrie’ (adj. III; black), ‘timpa’ (adj. I; white); Anner, from the nominative collective of the word ‘anne’ (4lun; horse).

Remarks. Related to horses, but with black and white stripes; they live in eastern Essos.

Valenka, the group of humans and human-like creatures.

Etymology. From the word ‘vala’ (1lun; man) and the suffix –enka (adj. I), meaning all-together ‘like humans’.

Remarks. This is the group that contains all human-like sentient species. Besides the group of humans, Valar (see below), there are several other species, mythical or not, that are most probably more closely related to the Valar than anything else. Although some of the species mentioned below could be myths and the product of fantasies and stories, I still prefer to properly name them. The distribution of Valenka is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. The distribution of known species of Valenka and Valar, the human-like species in the World of Ice and Fire.

Guēsōñe-Riñar, all the children from the forest.

Etymology. Guēsōñe from the word ‘guēsin’ (4lun; forest) and the suffix –ōñe; Riñar from the nominative collective of ‘riña’ (1lun; child).

Remarks. Dark and beautiful, less barbarous than the giants; renowned for working with obsidian and beautiful songs. Currently live beyond the Wall.

Rōvalar-Rōvalar, all the giants.

Etymology. Rōvalar (all the giants) from the nominative collective of ‘rōvala’ (1lun; giant). Both components of the name are identical for emphasis.

Remarks. Giants once had a broader distribution in the World of Ice and Fire, but currently are restricted to the lands north of the Wall.

Hagedornōñe-Annevalar, all the horsemen of Hagedorn, also known as the Centaurs.

Etymology. Hagedornōñe, in honor of the great Archmaester Hagedorn, who wrote that centaurs never existed and were simply mounted warriors; Annevalar, from the combination of the words ‘vala’ (1lun; man) and ‘anne’ (4 lun; horse), meaning horsemen in the nominative collective.

Remarks. Most probably, the specimens examined in the Citadel are artifacts of mixtures of skeletons of humans and horses, probably confused with the Dothraki. Even so, it is still possible, especially in a world of magic like the World of Ice and Fire, that they once existed. Supposed distribution in the eastern grasslands of Essos during the Dawn Age.

Theronōñe-Valītsor, all the little humans of Theron, also known as the Deep Ones.

Etymology. Theronōñe, in honor to Maester Theron who first wrote about these creatures; Valītsor from the word ‘vala’ (1lun; man) and the diminutive suffix –ītsos (2sol) in the nominative collective.

Remarks. Supposedly misshapen creatures that fathered the merlings (see below). Their exact distribution is not known, but reports mention the destruction of the Lorathi mazemakers by sea creatures and the sacrifice of sailors on the Thousand Islands to fish-headed gods, likely connected to the Deep Ones. As such, we can speculate that the Deep Ones had a Shivering Sea distribution.

Klihenka-Valar, all the fish-men, also known as merlings.

Etymology. Klihenka, from ‘klios’ (3sol; fish) and the suffix –enka (adj. I); for Valar, see below.

Remarks. Aquatic human/fish hybrids, with a cosmopolitan distribution. House Manderly has a merling at its sigil.

Guēsōñe-Dekurūptyr, all the walkers of the forest, also known as the Ifeqevron.

Etymology. Guēsōñe (of the forest) from the word ‘guēsin’ (4lun; forest); Dekurūptyr comes from the word ‘dekurūbagon’ (to walk) and the suffix –tys (2sol) to form the word ‘walker’ in the nominative collective.

Remarks. Ifeqevron means, in the Dothraki language, ‘those who walk in the woods’, which served as the inspiration behind the name in High Valyrian. They inhabit the great forest of the Kingdom of Ifeqevron in northern Essos, between Vaes Dothrak and the Ibben Islands.

Valar, the group containing all humans.

Etymology. From the nominative collective of the noun ‘vala’ (1lun; man), meaning ‘all the humans’.

Remarks. Besides the major ethnic groups of Valar described below (the First Men, the Andals, and the Rhoynars), there are other ‘species’ of Valar that deserve their own name, some of them clearly distinct (e.g., the Ibbenese and the Hairy Men) and others probably distinct from Sylvie-Valar, like the Valyrians. In other cases, we do not have enough information to discern if some ethnic groups are truly distinct from those mentioned above. The horselords Dothraki are, of course, the most important example, including the tribes around them (e.g., the Lhazareen, Jogos Nhai, Qathii). As the First Men originate from the grasslands of Essos, and the Andals were also a nomadic group that stretched eastward in Essos, it is likely that the origin of these groups could be found in them. In the absence of convincing evidence, I prefer not to name all these Sylvie-Valar groups for the moment.

Ibbenīha-Valar, all the Ibbenians.

Etymology. Valar, see above; Ibbenīha comes from the combination of the word Ibben, their island of origin, and the suffix –īha (adj. I), which would mean in the Common Tongue ‘Ibbenian’.

Remarks. They are included in their own species of Valar, as they are apparently unable to produce viable offspring with other species of humans.

Ōgharenka-Valar, all the Hairy Men.

Etymology. Valar, see above; Ōgharenka, from the word ‘ōghar’ (1aq; hair) and the suffix –enka (adj. I).

Remarks. As the Hairy Men are supposed to be closely related to the Ibbenians, I assume that they represent a distinct species of Valar. Some say that they originated in Ibben and then spread out to Essos, settling in places like Lorath.

Sothorīha-Valar, all the Sothorysians.

Etymology. Valar, see above; Sothorīha comes from the combination of the word Sothoryos, their island of origin, and the suffix –īha (adj. I), which would mean in the Common Tongue ‘Sothorysian’.

Remarks. As the humans from Sothoryos, or Brindled Men, were unable to produce viable offspring with other species of humans, I suppose that they represent a distinct species of Valar.

Jaedrōñe-Valar, all the humans from the Summer Islands.

Etymology. Jaedrōñe comes from the word ‘jaedria’ (Summer Islands; 1aq.), and the suffix –ōñe, in allusion to the Summer Islands, their place of origin; Valar, see above.

Remarks. They are included in their own species of Valar, as they, throughout their history, apparently lived isolated from the rest.

Sylvie-Valar, all the wise humans.

Etymology. Sylvie, from the nominative singular of the adjective ‘sylvie’ (adj. III; wise);  Valar see above.

Remarks. The First Men, the Andals and Rhoynars represent the three major ethnic groups in the World of Ice and Fire and we have evidence of their interbreeding producing viable offspring. As such, I include them in the same ‘species’, with different ‘subspecies’.

Sylvie-Ēlie-Valar, all the wise First Men.

Etymology. Ēlie comes from the adjective ‘ēlie’ (adj. III; first, primary).

Sylvie-Andalōñe-Valar, all the wise Andals.

Etymology. Andalōñe comes from the word for the Andals and the suffix –ōñe (adj. II).

Sylvie-Rhoynarīha-Valar, all the wise Rhoynarians.

Etymology. Rhoynarīha comes from Rhoynar and the suffix –īha (adj. I), denoting their place of origin.

Sylvie-Valyrīha-Valar, all the wise Valyrians.

Etymology. Valyrīha comes from Valyria and the suffix –īha (adj. I), denoting their place of origin. 

Sylvie-Timpa-Valar, all the wise white humans.

Etymology. Timpa comes from the adjective ‘timpa’ (adj. I; white).

Remarks. Although their origin remains unclear, they probably represent a variation of the First Men. As such, they are tentatively included in the same ‘species’, but in a different ‘subspecies’ (Fig. 5).

Figure 5. A typical specimen of Sylvie-Timpa-Valar, a white walker from beyond the Wall, from the Lands of Always Winter. Screen capture from Episode #8 (‘Hardhome’), Season #5, of Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011–present).

Hontenka, the group that contains all the birds.

Etymology. Comes from the stem of the nominative collective of the word ‘hontes’ (4sol; bird) and the suffix –enka (adj. I).

Remarks. This group contains all birds. Note that birds are not defined by their flight ability, which was developed independently in other groups, such as dragons and insects.

Bantenka-Lārar, all the crows of the night.

Etymology. Bantenka, from the word bantis (5sol; night) in honor of the Night’s Watch, whose members are called ‘crows’, and the suffix –enka; Lārar, from the collective of ‘lāra’ (1lun; crow).

Remarks. Iconic birds, mainly because of their association with the Night’s Watch.

Hontenkys-Dāryr, all the birds of the king, also known as the Eagle.

Etymology. Hontenkys, from the word ‘hontes’ (4sol; bird) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I); Dāryr, from the collective of the word dārys (2sol; king).

Udrenkys-Vōljer, all the ravens.

Etymology. Udrenkys, from the word ‘udir’ (5aq; word, news) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I); Vōljer, from the collective of the word ‘vōljes’ (4sol; raven).

Remarks. One of the animals with special importance to humans, as they are used in long-distance communication between settlements. They are usually under the care of the Maester of each castle.

Sōnenkys-Vōljer, all the ravens of the winter, also known as the White Ravens.

Etymology. Sōnenkys from the word ‘sōnar’ (1lun; winter) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I), in allusion to their use by the Maesters of the Citadel to announce the change of seasons; Vōljer, from the collective of the word vōljes (4sol; raven).

Remarks. A different species of raven, kept and raised in the Citadel. They are used to announce the changing of seasons in Westeros.

Sōnenkor-Vāedar, the song of the snow, also known as the Snow Shrike.

Etymology. Sōnenkor, from the word ‘sōna’ (1lun; snow) with the suffix –enkor (adj. I); Vāedar, from the nominative of the word ‘vāedar’ (1aq; song).

Remarks. Found mainly in the North, but go as south as the Riverlands.

Tīkunītsenka, the small winged animals.

Etymology. From ‘tīkun’ (3sol; wing) and the suffixes –ītsos (2 sol; diminutive) and –enka (adj. I).

Ānogro-Bībire-Zōbros, the purple, blood-sucking animal, or bloodfly.

Etymology. Ānogro, from the word ‘ānogar’ (1aq; blood) in the genitive; Bībire, from the verb ‘bībagon’ (to suck); Zōbros, from the substantive of the word ‘zōbrie’ (adj. III; purple). The name means the “bloodsucking purple one”.

Remarks. Bloodsucking, purple insect, living in marshes and ponds in Essos.

Kastys-Raeder, all the green scorpions, or manticores.

Etymology. Kastys, from the adjective ‘kasta’ (adj. I; blue, green), in allusion to the Jade Sea where this creature lives; Raeder, from the nominative collective of the noun ‘raedes’ (4sol; scorpion).

Remarks. They have a black carapace, a barbed tail, and a human-like face. Its sting is poisonous and causes heart attack in humans. They live in the islands of the Jade Sea.

Rīzenka, the group of reptile-like animals.

Etymology. From the word ‘rīza’ (1lun; reptile, lizard) and the suffix –enka.

Basiliskīha-Rīzar, all the Basiliskian reptiles.

Etymology. Basiliskīha, from Basilisk and the suffix –īha (adj. I), meaning “Basiliskian”; Rīzar from the collective of the noun ‘rīza’ (1lun; reptile, lizard).

Remarks. The basilisk is a venomous, large, reptile from the Basilisk Isles.

Drakarenkys-Zaldrīzer, all the fire dragons.

Etymology. Drakarenkys, from the word ‘drakarys’ (2sol; dragon-fire) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I); Zaldrīzer, from the nominative collective of the word ‘zaldrīzes’ (4sol; dragon).

Remarks. These magical creatures once lived in the entire World of Ice and Fire, with four limbs, two wings, strong jaws, sharp teeth and claws, horns, and a long pointed tail (Fig. 6); they breathe fire. Once the source of power for the Valyrian dragonlords and the Targaryens, they were considered extinct since the last dragon died in the 153 AC (After Conquest) following the events of the Dance of the Dragons. However, Daenerys Targaryen was recently able to hatch three dragon eggs.

Figure 6. Drogon, named after Khal Drogo, one of the two surviving Drakarenkys-Zaldrīzer, seen in the dragon pit of King’s Landing. Screen capture from Episode #7 (‘The Dragon and the Wolf’), Season #7, of Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011–present).

Suvenkys-Zaldrīzer, all the ice dragons.

Etymology. Suvenkys, from word ‘suvion’ (3ter; ice) and the suffix –enkys (adj. I); Zaldrīzer, see above.

Remarks. A mythical species of dragon that was larger than the fire dragons and breathed ice (Fig. 7). Rumor has it that the Night King was able to create a Suvenkys-Zaldrīzer beyond the Wall.

Figure 7. Viserion, named after Viserys Targaryen (brother of Daenerys Targaryen), the only known specimen of Suvenkys-Zaldrīzer in the World of Ice and Fire. Although seemingly identical to a Drakarenkys-Zaldrīzer, there is clear evidence that this species does not breathe fire. Scholars disagree if a Suvenkys-Zaldrīzer breaths ice or some kind of ‘icy fire’. Screen capture from Episode #7 (‘The Dragon and the Wolf’), Season #7, of Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011–present).

Tīkunoqittys-Zaldrīzer, all the dragons without wings, or firewyrms.

Etymology. Tīkunoqittys, from the nominative plural of the word ‘tīkun’ (3sol; wing) with the suffix –oqittys (adj. I; –less); Zaldrizer, see above.

Remarks. Wingless fire dragons from the Valyrian peninsula. Extinct.

Drakaroqittys-Zaldrīzer, all the fireless dragons, or wyverns.

Etymology. Drakaroqittys, from the word drakarys (2sol; dragon-fire) and the suffix –oqittys (adj. I; less); Zaldrīzer, see above.

Remarks. Related to dragons but fireless, surviving in Sothyryos.

Rīdōñe-Rīskelior, all the lizard-lions of the Reeds.

Etymology. Rīdōñe, meaning ‘of the Reed’, in honor to House Reed, whose sigil has a black lizard-lion, and the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Rīskelior, from the word ‘rīza’ (1lun; reptile, lizard) and the word ‘kēlio’ (3lun; lion) in the collective.

Remarks. Crocodile-like lizards with large teeth that live in the streams and swamps of the Neck.

Qarthōñor-Qintrir, all the turtles of Qarth, or phantom tortoises.

Etymology. Qarthōñor, from the city of Qarth and the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Qintrir, from the nominative col of the noun ‘qintir’ (5aq; turtle).

Tegōñior-Qintrir, all the terrestrial turtles.

Embōñior-Qintrir, all the marine turtles.

Qelbōñior-Qintrir, all the aquatic turtles.

Etymology. The first components are formed from the adjectives ‘tegōñe’ (adj. II; terrestrial), ‘embōñe’ (adj. II; marine), and ‘qelbōñe’ (adj. II; aquatic, from the river); Qintrir, see above.

Remarks. Reptile-like animals, whose body is enclosed within a bony shell; they can reach large sizes and have a cosmopolitan distribution. Although probably there are dozens of different species of turtles in the World of Ice and Fire, they are grouped here under three species only, based on their preferred habitat. Further work should focus on describing the various species of turtles included in each of these above-named groups.

Martino-Qintrir, the turtle of Martin, also known as the Old Man of the River.

Etymology. Martino, genitive of Martin, in honor of G.R.R. Martin, the author of the Song of Ice and Fire series; Qintrir, see above.

Remarks. The Old Man of the River is a sacred giant turtle that lived in the river Rhoyne, and is worshiped by the Rhoynars. G.R.R. Martin has publicly expressed his love of turtles and the role that they played in the development of the World of Ice and Fire[2], so this species is named after him.

Embenka, all the sea-dwelling animals.

Etymology. From the noun ‘embar’ (1aq; sea) and the suffix –enka (adj. I).

Grējojōñor-Uēhor, all the great squids of the Greyjoys, or krakens.

Etymology. Grējojōñor, in allusion to House Greyjoy, whose sigil bears a golden kraken, with the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Uēhor, from the word ‘uēs’ (3sol; squid) in the nominative collective.

Remarks. A kind of giant squid, supposedly living in the sea south of Dorne.

Embrōñe-Jēnqañōgher, all the sea creatures with eight arms, also known as octopods.

Etymology. Embrōñe, from the genitive collective of the word ‘embar’ (1aq; sea) with the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Jēnqañōgher, from the combination of the words ‘jēnqa’ (eight) and ‘ñōghe’ (4lun; arm) in the collective.

Qaedrāzmar-Qaedrāzmar, all the great whales, or leviathans.

Etymology. Qaedrāzmar, from the word ‘qaedar’ (1aq; whale) and the augmentative suffix –āzma (1lun) in the collective.

Remarks. An enormous grey whale, among the most ancient creatures of the World of Ice and Fire. Found in the Shivering Sea.

Naggōñe-Embrōñe-Zaldrīzer, all the sea dragons of Nagga.

Etymology. Naggōñe, of Nagga, the mythical sea dragon, with the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Embrōñe, from the word ‘embar’ (1aq; sea) and the suffix –ōñe (adj. II); Zaldrīzer, see above.

Remarks. A sea dragon, feeding on krakens and leviathans. Supposedly extinct since the Age of Heroes, although some believe it still survives in the Sunset Sea.


This is only the first account on the names of some of the most important animals of the World of Ice and Fire. Many more kinds of beings remain lacking formal names, including most domesticated animals and plants. Future work should focus on refining this system of taxonomy and describing the remarkable living and extinct diversity of Westeros and Essos.


Dothraki Wiki (Tongues of Ice and Fire Wiki). (2018) Learning High Valyrian. Available from: https://wiki.dothraki.org/Learning_High_Valyrian (Date of access: 27/Apr/2018).

E_v_a_n. (2017) The Full Taxonomy of Ice and Fire. Subreddit “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Available from: https://redd.it/79jeze (Date of access: 27/Apr/2018).

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). (1999) International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. 4th Edition. The International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, London.

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). (2012) Amendment of Articles 8, 9, 10, 21 and 78 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature to expand and refine methods of publication. ZooKeys 219: 1–10.

Martin, G.R.R. (1996) A Game of Thrones. Bantam Books, New York.

Martin, G.R.R. (1999) A Clash of Kings. Bantam Books, New York.

Martin, G.R.R. (2000) A Storm of Swords. Bantam Books, New York.

Martin, G.R.R. (2005) A Feast for Crows. Bantam Books, New York.

Martin, G.R.R. (2011) A Dance with Dragons. Bantam Books, New York.

Martin, G.R.R.; Garcia, E.; Antonsson, L. (2014) The World of Ice and Fire: the Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. Bantam Books, New York.

Peterson, D.J. (2013) Valar Dohaeris. Dothraki: a Language of Fire and Blood. Available from: http://www.dothraki.com/2013/03/valar-dohae ris/ (Date of access: 27/Apr/2018).

Wiki of Ice and Fire, A. (2018) Bestiary. Available from: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/ Bestiary (Date of access: 27/Apr/2018).


I would like to thank the Dothraki Wiki community for making available the rules, grammar and dictionary of High Valyrian. I thank the Reddit communities of the Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones for inspiration and comments. Special thanks to the redditors u/hm0119 and u/jackm0ve for their interest to jump in and name some species of their own; these names have not been included herein. I would like to deeply thank the editor of the JGS, Rodrigo B. Salvador, and the rest of the editorial board for useful comments that greatly improved this manuscript. I would like to express my gratitude to David J. Peterson, the creator of the Valyrian and Dothraki languages, who reviewed an earlier version of the manuscript; he managed not only to point out the numerous mistakes I made in the formation of the words in my early version but also to provide valuable lessons through his critical review. His comments and suggestions also made the entire system much more consistent and uniform. Of course, I am solely responsible for any mistakes in the formation of the High Valyrian names. This project has been developed in my free time, but was inspired by the importance of zoological nomenclature and the art of coining species names. I would like to thank my family for their understanding and support when I spend time with projects like this.


Evangelos Vlachos is a big fan of the World of Ice and Fire and, just like G.R.R. Martin, a huge fan of turtles and tortoises. He is currently a CONICET researcher in the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio, in Trelew, Chubut, Argentina, working on fossil turtles and tortoises.

[1] See the ICZN’s website (http://iczn.org) for detailed information.

[2] From http://www.simplethingcalledlife.com/interest ing/game-of-thrones-turtles/

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