Amphibious animal of the Bible; see SeMIMYTH-ical Beasts.

Etymology: Plural form of the Hebrew be-hemah ("beast"), inclusive of all wild and domesticated animals.

Physical description: Robust body. Nose

"pierces through snares." Long, strong tail "like a cedar."

Behavior: Herbivorous. Hearty drinker ("can draw up Jordan into his mouth"). Habitat: Forested rivers or swamps. Possible explanations:

(1) A surviving sauropod dinosaur similar to the Mokele-Mbembe of Central Africa, suggested by Roy Mackal.

(2) The Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus am-phibius) was first advocated by Samuel Bochart in 1663. Its small tail is a problem, but it is amphibious, robust, and herbivorous.

(3) The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) has a strong tail, but it is a carnivore.

(4) The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) has been suggested by Georg Kaspar Kirchmayer and Sylvia K. Sikes. Sources: Bibl e, Ol d Testament (Job 40:1524); Samuel Bochart, Hierozoicon, sive, bipartitum opus De animalibus Sacrae Scripturae (London: John Martin and Jacob Al l estry, 1663), vol. 2, chap. 15; Edmund Goldsmid, ed., Un-natural History, or Myths of Ancient Science: Being a Collection of Curious Tracts on the Basilisk, Unicorn, Phoenix, Behemoth or Leviathan, Dragon, Giant Spider, Tarantula, Chameleons, Satyrs, Homines Caudati, &e. (Edinburgh: Edmund Goldsmid, 1886); Marvin H. Pope, ed., Job (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1965), p. 266; Roy P. Mackal, A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe (Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1987), pp. 5-7.

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