Whew! I didn't have quite enough time to finish this one before I left for class this morning, so I fiddled with it some more this evening. Since I have a guest visiting tomorrow, I might take Friday off and resume monstering this weekend.
The salamander, like the vast majority of bestiary critters, is a real animal with imaginary characteristics. The salamander's ability to survive the flames was attributed to its intense cold and fire-extinguishing secretions, and asbestos was originally believed to be made from salamander wool or from their woven cocoons. According to classical philosophy, observes Jorge Luis Borges, "If there were animals of land and of water, then there had to be animals of fire. It was necessary for the dignity of science, therefore, that there be Salamanders."