"Four great beasts came up out of the sea...." [DAN 7:3] The first beast was like a LION, and it had eagle's wings. The second beast that Daniel saw in his vision was like a BEAR, and it had three ribs in its mouth and was told to "arise and devour much flesh." The THIRD beast was like a LEOPARD which had wings, but also four heads. Then Daniel saw the fourth beast that was "dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedlingly." It had great iron teeth and it devoured and stamped upon many, and it had ten horns and was different from the other beasts. [ DAN 7:4-7 ]

The next thing Daniel saw was a LITTLE HORN that came up among the beast's ten horns. It had EYES like a man and a MOUTH that spoke "great things," great boasts.

Then Daniel saw God's Throne, the Judgement, and then the Second Coming of Christ.

BEASTS symbolize nations. These "beasts" symbolized the nations that rose out of the "seas of people" that populated the near east and Eurpoe. [ See REV 17:15 "waters" and "seas" in prophecy symbolize large populations of people. ]

This vision parallels Daniel's previous vision of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, but in greater detail.

Two more quick points: even in modern times certain animals have come to represent nations. The United States has its eagle, Russia has its bear, Great Britain the lion, etc... and there can be no doubt that the fourth beast with terrible iron teeth equals the same nation represented by the iron legs of the great metal statue -- Rome with its cruelly powerful iron weapons.