|The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! It was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other thigns that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging its claws, stopping its long naked neck.|
There are as many versions of fellbeasts (the name given to the Nazgul’s flying mounts, as Tolkien did not name them) as there are of Smaug. Most show black, dragonlike creatures with long necks and webbed wings. Their heads show the most variation — in the movie, they were blunt and wormlike, but I’ve also seen vulture, lizard, snake, and pterodactyl heads. The pic above reminds me of Maleficent the dragon in the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty. Tolkien did not mention them having teeth, so I always pictured them with a beak.
I’m finishing up Tolkien month with name variations of minor characters, including the much-maligned Tom Bombadil who was left out of the movies.
Lord of the Rings Name Variations