Sea Monster of the Middle East; see Semi-mythical Beasts.
Etymology: Hebrew (Semitic), livyatan, from livyah ("twisted") + tan ("monster"). Variant names: Rahab, Tannin, Yam. Physical description: Enormous size. Tightly joined scales. Glowing red eyes. Fiery breath. Large teeth. Strong neck. Has limbs or fins. Behavior: Raises itself up on the water.
(1) A whale of some kind, especially the Sperm whale (Physeter catodon), which is found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Its fiery breath could be the whale spouting, while raising itself up on the water could be the animal's habit of breaching.
(2) The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), suggested by Samuel Bochart, although this is a freshwater animal and does not live in the sea. The Egyptians occasionally hunted this crocodile with baited hooks.
(3) The Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), but this reptile only lives in Southeast Asia and Australasia.
(4) A Multfinned Sea Monster, advocated by Bernard Heuvelmans.
(5) Karl Shuker suggested a surviving mosasaur, a group of twenty genera that includes some of the largest marine reptiles ever, frequently exceeding 33 feet in length. They lived in the Late Cretaceous, 95—65 million years ago.
(6) A mythical composite of several large animals.
Sources: Bible, Old Testament (Job 3:8, 41:1-34; Pss. 74:14, 104:26; Isa. 27:1); Samuel Bochart, Hierozoicon, sive, bipartitum opus De animalibus Sacrae Scripturae (London: John Martin and Jacob Allestry, 1663); Bernard Heuvelmans, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (New York: Hill and Wang, 1968), pp. 80-83, 568; Karl Shuker, In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (London: Blandford, 1995), pp. 127-128.
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