According to Greek and Roman mythology, the salamander is a spirit that resides in fire. A common belief as to the origin of this myth stems from the fact many salamanders live in wood chips. When this wood is thrown into the fire, the salamanders come scurrying out.
To medieval people, the sight of salamanders running out of the wood after it was already engulfed in flames inspired legends of the salamander's fire origin. Salamanders actually reside in wet or dry regions, depending on the species. The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder tested the fire-salamander hypothesis, only to find that they were unable to exist in fire without burning up.