It is generally represented with four legs, wings and a beak, with eagle-like talons in place of a lion's forelegs and equine ears jutting from its skull. Some writers describe the tail as a serpent. It was said to build a nest, like an eagle. Instead of eggs, it lays agates.
The animal was supposed to watch over gold mines and hidden treasures, and to be the enemy of the horse. It was consecrated to the Sun; and ancient painters represented the chariot of the Sun as drawn by griffins. The griffin was said to inhabit Scythia (central to western Asia), where gold and precious stones were abundant; and when strangers approached to gather the stones, the creatures would leap on them and tear them to pieces. The locals used giant petrified bones found in this area as proof of the existence of griffins and to keep outsiders away from the gold and precious stones. These "Griffin bones" were actually dinosaur fossils which are common in this part of the world.
The griffin is often seen as a charge in heraldry; and in architectural decoration is usually represented as a four-footed beast with wings and the head of a leopard or tiger with horns, or with the head and beak of an eagle. The City of London marks its borough boundaries with griffins carrying their coat of arms. The griffin is the symbol of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and you can see bronze castings of them perched on each corner of museum's roof, protecting its collection.