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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Doctor Shuker's Leviathan

Article "Hebrew Bible"

Leviathan “The Twisting One”

In the Hebrew Bible Leviathan is specifically mentioned in:

Job 3:8, “Let those curse it who curse the Sea, those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.”<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[2]<!--[endif]--> This particular verse, and its context, is examined in the Egyptian literature section of this site.

Job 41:1 “Can you draw out Leviathan  with a fishhook, or press down its tongue with a cord?”

Psalm 74:14, “You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food  for the creatures of the wilderness.”

Psalm 104:26, “There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.”

Isaiah 27:1, “On that day the Lord with his cruel and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will kill the dragon that is in the sea.”

Rahab “The Proud One”

Elsewhere in the HB there is also reference to the dragon Rahab. The name Rahab for a dragon or serpent is not mentioned in any extra-biblical texts, but since he is also called “the twisting one” in the HB it may be an alternative name for Leviathan.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[3]<!--[endif]--> Hebrew texts that mention Rahab are:

Job 9:13, ““God will not turn back his anger; the helpers of Rahab bowed beneath him.”

Job 26:12, “By his power he stilled the Sea; by his understanding he struck down Rahab.”
Psalms 87:4, “Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon…” While this verse does use the name of Rahab it is possible that this verse reflects a later development in which Rahab became a pseudonym for Egypt and Leviathan for Syria.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[4]<!--[endif]-->
Psalms 89:10, “You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
Isaiah 30:7, “For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty, therefore I have called her, “Rahab who sits still.”

Isaiah 51:9, “…Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon?”

The parallels and context of the usage of Leviathan and Rahab will be examined in the sections that contain parallel material from Ancient NearEastern countries.

<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]--> Francis Brown et al., Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Strong’s, TWOT, and GK references Copyright 2000 by Logos Research Systems, Inc.;, electronic ed.; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 1072.

<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[2]<!--[endif]--> Unless otherwise stated all Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989).
<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[3]<!--[endif]--> John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan (London, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 99.

<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[4]<!--[endif]--> Walter Eichrodt ed., Theology of the Old Testament II (TOTL; Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1967) 114.

[In contrast with these authors I find the name Rahab to be the same as the Oriental Rahu, the Dragon which Swallows the Sun, and possibly also identical to the primordial dragons Tiamat and Typhon. However all of these creatures are less descriptions of possibly-real Cryptids but are instead Dragon Gods of Mythology-DD]

Late in 2006 I was putting up the original version of the Frontiers of Zoology Yahoo group, the Cryptozoology Exchange. At that point I was figuratively fishing around for a key specific creature to represent Karl Shuker'a work and I asked him what he thought I should use. After several alternative proposals were rejected by the group and by myself, we decided that Karl Shuker should be represented by the Leviathan, which he considered to be a really large mosasaur, as he also considered the creature killed by the Monongahela to be. Consequently we used that creature as our mascot representing Karl's work and I christened the Cryptid category as Shuker's Leviathan. At the time we thought it was a distinctive category from Heuvelmans' Marine Saurian because it seemed bigger and more rugged, choosing larger prey and being more resistant to low water temperatures, but eventually it seemed that they were the same species after all, only the Marine Saurians travelled to the tropics to breed, hence more of the smaller ones were seen in warmer waters. They also seemed to be following herds of whales migrating during the breeding season and here we made our other important determining link: the creatures were actually following herds of whales because they preyed upon the whales-DD.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
KARL SHUKER-THE REAL LEVIATHAN? Over the years, there have been countless considerations of giant sea monsters, but what about the real, original leviathan? This colossal mystery beast of the Bible - "the piercing serpent...that crooked serpent...the dragon that is in the sea" (Isaiah, 27:1) - is, after all, the creature whose name has ultimately become an umbrella term for large, unidentified water beasts everywhere - as evinced by Tim Dinsdale's classic book on this subject, The Leviathans (1966, 1976).

The Old Testament contains four references to this monstrous sea creature, which provide several important morphological features - including its huge size, extensively scaled body, elongate shape, large plentiful teeth, shining eyes, powerful neck, smoking nostrils, and distinctive fins. Biblical scholars have nominated several different animals as the leviathan's identity, but whereas each possesses some of its characteristics, none has all of them.

The most popular identity is the Nile crocodile Crocodylus niloticus, which is indeed scaly and somewhat elongate, with an abundance of large teeth, a powerful neck, shining eyes, and a sizeable (albeit not enormous) body. However, it possesses neither fins nor smoking nostrils, and is not marine in habitat. Sharks are marine and finned, some are very large and fairly elongate, and many have plenty of large teeth, but not smoking nostrils, shining eyes, or scales.

Whales are also marine, finned, often very large and quite streamlined, and some have many large teeth. Moreover, the spray spouted upwards from around their blow-holes when they exhale could conceivably be distorted into smoke during the telling and retelling of leviathan reports over successive generations - but whales are neither scaly nor shiny-eyed, and their necks are almost invisible.

And so it goes on - even identities as unlikely as the rock python Python sebae have been offered in a desperate attempt to reconcile this exceptional creature with a known type of animal.

Most probably, the leviathan is a non-existent composite, part-myth and part-reality. The latter component comprises a hotchpotch of distinctive features drawn from all of the animals noted above, and possibly one other too - a bona fide sea serpent.

On account of its scaly skin, veteran cryptozoologist Dr Bernard Heuvelmans considered the leviathan to be of the 'marine centipede' type. (Thus, according to his belief in what those creatures are, it would have been a modern-day armoured archaeocete - however, we nowadays know that such beasts never existed, as they were merely artefacts caused by archaeocete fossils being fiound in association with scales from other, unrelated creatures.) Conversely, I believe that if the leviathan is either a sea serpent or a myth inspired in part by sightings of one, then it is more likely to be a living mosasaur.

Mosasaur - could a modern-day species explain the leviathan? (Tim Morris)

Indeed, this identity uniquely combines all of the leviathan's features - its scaly body, elongate shape, shining eyes (typical of many large reptiles), powerful neck, fins, great size (as with the tylosaurs), large plentiful teeth, and smoking nostrils (as with the whale identity, no doubt a reference to the spouting of water displaced from around its nostrils when exhaling underwater). Yet only a complete specimen can conclusively test this hypothesis.

"Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?", asks Job (41:1). Judging from science's singular lack of success in securing the carcase of any type of genuine water monster via any of the traditional means utilised in capturing aquatic animals, the answer to this question would appear, quite definitely, to be no! Clearly, then, it is time to develop a different means of obtaining such evidence - one commensurate with the sophisticated technology now available for scientific research - for until such evidence is obtained, all of the leviathans documented by water monster chroniclers down through the ages will continue to remain an abiding mystery.

In 1886, Charles Gould passed the following remarks in his book Mythical Monsters:

"Let the relations of the sea-serpent be what they may; let it be serpent, saurian, or fish, or some form intermediate to them; and even granting that those relations may never be determined, or only at some very distant date; yet, nevertheless, the creature must now be removed from the regions of myth, and credited with having a real existence, and that its name includes not one only, but probably several very distinct gigantic species, allied more or less closely, and constructed to dwell in the depths of the ocean, and which only occasionally exhibit themselves to a fortune-favoured wonder-gazing crew."

It is a sad reflection of zoology's longstanding disinterest in the subject of water monsters that those words are as relevant today as they were more than a century ago.

'Destruction of Leviathan' (Gustave Doré, 1865)

This is an excerpt from one of my books-in-progress, The Creatures That Time Forgot: Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors

Timothy-Donald-Morris said...
When will you need potential illustrations for this? Or should I start experimenting already?
20 January 2011 07:22
Dale Drinnon said...
I was all for the idenity of the Leviathan as a really big mosasaur and in fact when I began identifying reports of the largest type of "Marine Saurian", I called it Shuker's Leviathan. However mosasaurs would not have armoured scales and that part would be from a crocodile. Indeed the Marine Saurin category was devised by Heuvelmans to include both reports of crocodiles and mosasaurs, and I think the category does contain reports of both. I have done a good deal of research defining the Leviathan-cryptid and one of the features consistently alleged about it is that it eats small whales by swallowing them whole (Leviathan is said to do that in Jewish Folklore). Since the Monongahela creature was said to have remains of a pilot whale ("Blackfish") and a large shark in its stomach, I take that to be circumstantial evidence that the two cryptids are the same and that the circumstantial evidence goes to confirm either category, both of which are mostly thought of as dubious by researchers.

I do have artwork of the type, including a photo-montage mockup of a small whale fitting into a big Mosasaur's jaws, to show the scale.

20 January 2011 12:29
Dale Drinnon said...
BTW, my blog last Monday mentioned OTHER "Whale-Eaters" of mythology with a passing reference to the overall Cryptid type:

And the part 2 of that should be out tomorrow.
Best Wishes, Dale D.

20 January 2011 13:59
Richard Muirhead said...
There is Jewish folkore that God destroyed Leviathan and cut his body up strewing it all over the desert,presumably near Sinai.Also,read John Milton`s brilliant account of Leviathan in Paradise Lost

20 January 2011 15:34
Dr Karl Shuker said...
Hi Tim, Yes, I'll definitely be needing some pix for this, so please feel free to come up with whatever you think may be of use and interest, using the original edition as guide to the major cryptids documented in it. Thanks very much! All the best, Karl

Hi Dale, Shuker's Leviathan - I like that!
20 January 2011 19:17
Timothy-Donald-Morris said...
I must have missed your reply, Karl. I'll start work on it now.

4 March 2011 12:50 4 March 2011 12:50
Dr Karl Shuker said...
Thanks Tim!

4 March 2011 12:57
Dr Karl Shuker said...
Thanks very much for your excellent mosasaur illustration, Tim. I've just received it and have inserted it here in this blog - looks great!!

5 March 2011 03:58

Heuvelmans' Marine Saurian, in Bestiary Guise.

Heuvelmans' Marine Saurian As Published: The U28 Sea-Serpent.

Sunday, January 16, 2011
DALE DRINNON: Traditional Northwest- Coast Sea Monsters (CFZ Blog Repost)


The Northwest Coast area is that part of the Pacific coast between Southern Alaska and Northern California. In anthropological terms this is a distinct cultural area with an economy that thrives largely because of the abundance of annual salmon runs. It is also an area where there are a lot of sea-serpent reports in more modern times, which has also been linked to the abundance of salmon in the region.

There does not at first seem to be a direct link between the traditions of the indigenous peoples of the region and the more modern sea-serpent reports. The traditions are a little peculiar. One attempt to collect the traditions and define a cryptid category accomodating them is an article by Michael D. Swords which can be found here:

Which is the source of much of the information floating around the internet on the subject. Swords defines a single type of Sea-monster on the basis of the Traditional Wasco or Wasgo, the Sea-Wolf, the Sisiutl or two-headed sea-serpent, and the more crocodylian or dragon-like Haietlik. Because of his equation, several "Monster Encylopedias" speak of them all as equivalent. They are not the same but they are often very much confused with each other. Swords also equates all of the types with Mackal's version of the freshwater monsters of the area, which Mackal calls Naiatakas, and he uses Mackal's identity for the creatures, a sort of longnecked zueglodon. At the same time, he includes the Pal-Rai-Yuk along with the other "Monster" types while Mackal uses that Traditional creature to explain Steller's Sea Ape.

My own independant research into Sea Wolves came about because I was researching possible Folkloric connections to Steller's Sea Apes. I found several references to Seadogs or Waterdogs, which appeared to be the same as the Sea Apes and appeared to be large otters, generally corresponding to the reports of the Irish Master-Otters in size and shape. And then again there were the stories of the Sea Wolves or Sea Bears, Wasco. They were supposed to chase, capture and eat whales. At the time I thought the "Sea Wolf" description matched up with the Seadogs, except for the size, and so I said the battles must be some sort of Shamanic conflict in which the Totems are all imagined to be of more-or-less equivalent size. Like Japanese Giant Monster movies. I also mentioned that Thunderbirds were also imagined as being of large enough size to do battle with killer whales similarly to the Sea Wolves, and the actual reports we have of "Thunderbirds" are ordinarily nowhere nearly that big.

At that time I had not considered that there was a confusion between the different Seamonster types and that basically a reference to the smallest kind was transferred to the largest kind owing to a similar, overall lizard-shaped, body plan. The smallest kind is also indicated under the name "Sea Serpent" in the art print indicated at the top (Haietlik) and this name is also used elsewhere to name the "Sea-Alligator" spoken of locally

(The Sea Dragon)

and also the largest kind of Wasgo or WhaleEater. The smallest kind is only something like two or three meters long overall, perhaps up to four, and is clearly the same as the basically otterlike Waterdog (said to have sharp ears and a sharp snout as in Steller's Sea Ape AND as the definitive marks of the Irish Master-Otter) The biggest kind is sometimes said to be a hundred feet long, maybe more, and the intermediate kind is obviously a version of Bernard Heuvelmans' Marine Saurian. I believe the WhaleEater is actually the largest kind of Marine Saurian and that it came to be called the same as the "SeaWolf" through a basically similar shape and through an overly-generous classification system which allowed all the SeaMonsters to be spoken of interchangeably.

"Whale-Eater" is a name that turns up in different places and it is the same as the largest Taniwha. That would be what Shuker calls the Leviathan, and both Shuker and I think that is a very large Mosasaur, the same type of creature as killed by the crew of the Monongahela. The Monongahela creature had remains of a large shark and a pilot whale in its stomach. It is apparantly adapted to take prey in that size range and whalers have reported it following after small pods of whales, no doubt with the intention of snatching young ones if possible. For this reason I do refer to it as a "Cetiovore" (Whale-eater), but as yet this is only informally.

(Wasgo as Whale-Eater)

The Sisiutl is something different and it may be related to the Longer-necked SeaSerpent types seen more commonly in the area in more modern times. Incidentally, one of the petroglyphs reporduced here seems to be of the Long-necked sort, number 71. I shall review the Sisiutl images in a second part to follow this, but it seems on the face of it to have nothing to do with the more lizard-shaped seamonster reports we are talking about here. I do think that the "Naiataka" petroglyphs from Vancouver Island which Mackal mistakenly placed near Lake Okanogon ARE meant to represent the Longnecked types BUT they are stylized along the lines of other petroglyphs intended to be Wasgos (the Whale-Eaters)

[Postscript: Interestingly the Latin-Americans are also keenly interested in the possibility of a huge creature corresponding to The Whale-Eater, but artwork usually always shows the creature as an enormous shark.

Dale's Pasteup ca 2006: A medium-sized Pilot Whale is Just Bitesized to a Big Mosasaur.

Postscript 3:
When Tim Dinsdale wrote of the Monongahela case in The Leviathans (Monster Hunt in America), he referred to a popular old Victorian print showing two Prehistoric Sea Monsters fighting and he said they represented the two major categories of Sea-serpents as he recognised them, the Longnecked type or more common "Sea-serpent" as seen also on Loch Ness, and then again the Monongahela creature (The Leviathans 1976 pb pg.175)

I made a mockup of a similar scene and showed it to Lindsay Selby as the proposed book cover for a book we could do together on the subject. Unfortunately other projects seem to keep on popping up.

Best Wishes, Dale D.]

[Petroglyphs are from the internet site:

All photos taken from various internet sites and reproduced here for educational purposes. No copyright infringment is intended or should be inferred ]

Posted by Jon Downes at 5:21 AM Labels: dale drinnon

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