April 1st: Animal Planet, “Beasts of the Bible”

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 1st, 2010

I shall appear briefly in the documentary “Beasts of the Bible,” which is scheduled to be broadcast tonight, on April 1st, on Animal Planet. It will examine extraordinary creatures from biblical stories and uncovers some “shocking” truths, say the filmmakers, who shot in Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Israel and the United States.

Nuremberg Bible (1483) illustration shows a mermaid, merman and mer-dog swimming near Noah’s Ark.
From the AMNH site, in conjunction with the “Mythic Beasts” exhibition; Image courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London/Art Resource.


Homosassa Springs, above, 2008, was the location of the Mermaid-manatee portions of the program.

Beasts of the Bible

North American Premiere

Thursday, April 1, 2010, which will be broadcast at 8 pm, and repeated at 11 pm (ET/PT) on Animal Planet.

The Bible is full of strange and fantastic creatures. Legendary and horrific beasts like the Behemoth, Leviathan, Jonah’s whale and the legged serpent have captivated our imagination for centuries – did they really exist? Can they be found today or are they just myth? New investigations into the origins of these beasts have uncovered shocking truths; for centuries there have been monsters hiding from us in plain sight.

Welcome to the world of Beasts of the Bible, a new, 90-minute documentary that explores the most extraordinary creatures in the Biblical tales. This eye-popping, myth-busting, film decodes the ancient writings, unlocks the hidden meanings inside the symbols and legends, and uncovers the most famous and most mysterious Beasts of the Bible.

Weeki Wachee Springs, above, 1940s.

For more information on the production, see here and previous postings on this television event, as noted on Cryptomundo. My appearances, of course, will only be a few seconds, here and there, in the 90-minute-long program.

Some of the “beasts” being discussed, of course, are cryptozoological, such as Merbeings and Mokele-Mbembe.

In search of a good sound-byte for the documentary…

…watch for the surprise beast that appears behind me as I am being interviewed about Mokele-Mbembe!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

22 Responses to “April 1st: Animal Planet, “Beasts of the Bible””

  1. Yewlon responds:

    As a a person who majored in Biblical Studies and is now doing a Masters in that same subject who is crazy about cryptid’s, i will look forward to see this. Although i am sure that there are real cryptids from the Bible some are known animals that within the cultural context of the Bible are given other properties. Also one must take into account the translation. The Bible was not written in English, but Hebrew Greek and Aramaic. Many people still insist on using only the King James Bible. which is really becoming dated. As there are words used in it that have completely different meaning.

    For example my mother in law is a frighteningly fundamentalist pentecostal, who thinks all versions of the Bible should be burned but the King James, and that the Bible is to be read 100% literal (for the record i am far from this). She read a part in Psalms that mentions and talks about the “mighty unicorn” she saw this as 100% proof of the existence of unicorns and was ready to announce this to the world.

    I looked into it however and the Hebrew word used is something like “one horned animal” and to the less literal side of interpretations, Is believed to be a Rhino, the KJV writer saw “one horned animal” and rather then think of the area that the book was written in puts in unicorn as it was commonly believed to exist to the people in Britain,

  2. sschaper responds:

    I earned and M.Div., and I partially agree with Yewlon, though I hold to the grammatical-historical reading of the texts. I don’t consider the Bible to be mythological.

    In many cases we have a word only used once, or a very few times, so that the correct translation is less than clear. I am not aware of any instances of mermaid in the Bible.

    Levi-athan and Behemot are Hebrew words, the latter roughly meaning ‘beast’. Tanin has been translated as dragon and as serpent, so what exactly did it refer to? We just don’t know.

    In some cases, we have descriptions. An animal that is very large, has a long neck -and- a long tail that hangs out in reeds doesn’t sound much like a croc – the usual explanation, nor a giraffe, nor a hippo. Leviathan was some sort of very large aquatic creature, but we have no idea what. Consider that the Greeks called the hippo ‘water-horse’ yet we would not automatically think ‘horse’ when we saw one. Giant pig is more likely what would come to our modern minds.

    What the KJV calls ‘unicorn’ is very likely a rhino, or possibly an Ibex as has been also suggested.

    The “large fish” which swallowed Jonah, well we don’t know what it was. Many have speculated whale, and there is at least one case of a whale swallowing someone and that person being rescued alive very shortly thereafter. However it also appears that some miraculous actions on the part of God were involved in that incident, so in spite of Disney’s Pinnochio affecting our imaginations, I think we have to say that we just don’t know for sure what that was.

    Giants? Well Goliath was of a clan called ‘the sons of Anak’. While very tall, especially compared to the people of today, they don’t seem to have been substantially larger than the late Andre the Giant, or a local individual named Ivan who has been the subject of at least one TV program.

    The “sons of God” mating with “sons of men” may most likely refer to descendants of Seth marrying descendants of Cain, of different religions and thus considered wrong.

  3. cryptidsrus responds:

    I am so looking forward to this. I LOVE Biblical cryptids.

    Yewlon and Sschaper:

    Don’t forget the Cockatrice (Basilisk), which is mentioned (if I remember correctly) in the book of Isaiah (Old King James, of course). Will be interesting to see if this is included in the program.

    I also will be looking forward to mention of Satyrs in the program, which are ALSO mentioned in the Bible. Most folk nowadays identify them as mistranlations of the word “goat” but it would be interesting to see if the producers deal with this at all.

    Sschaper particularly:

    One interesting beast that sort of forms a “Trinity” in the Bible with Leviathan and Behemoth is the Zuzu Bird. It is surprising that nobody mentions it more often nowadays. The ZuZu bird was supposed to be so big that its head could reach the heavens and its wings could block out the Sun. It came from the dawn of time, as did Leviathan and Behemoth, but it is not apparently slated to take part in the events leading up to and including the Apocalypse. Like I said, it is rarely mentioned nowadays, unlike its more famous, iconic “cousins,” but I’ll be seeing if the producers take a gander at some of the more “obscure” Beasties of the Bible.

    I do not know where in the Bible the Zuzu bird is mentioned but I know it IS mentioned there somewhere. If not in the Standard scriptures then at least in the Apocrypha (which SOME people consider PARTLY to be of the Bible—I understand if you do not).

    Sschaper again:
    “Giants? Well Goliath was of a clan called ‘the sons of Anak’.”

    I do not know if you consider the Book of Enoch to be a legitimate source for Biblical history, but if you’ve read it and remember it, it states there about the “Nephilim,” which were the offspiring of the “Sons Of God” mating with mortal women—this is, of course the part of the Bible in Genesis where it talks about “there were Giants in the Earth in those days…” So on and so forth. Enoch gives you the “back story” regarding the Nephilim that was left out of the Bible. The Nephilim were described as being defintiely “giants” (and not just people who were simply above average height) and their sins against God were what eventually caused God generations later to destroy humanity and only leave Enoch’s Great-Grandson Noah and his family the only survivors.

    Anyway, many reputable Scripture scholars (not all of them mainstream, admittedly) have said it is pretty certain Goliath may have been a direct descendant of the Nephilim. Probably one of the last survivors. Nimrod is also said to be a Nephilim. It was not only coincidence that Dante made Nimrod one of the four Giants guarding one of the levels of Hell.

    So there IS an alternate viewpoint as to what Goliath could have been. Remember, the Nephilim are also mentioned in other places in the Bible. In Leviticus (if I remember correctly) either Moses or Joshua come upon a tribe of Nephilim while wandering the desert.

    I’m not a Bible scholar or even expert, but I am aware of the differing vewpoints regarding the existence of the Nephilim and what could REALLY have happened in those days when “there were Giants in the Earth.” Remember, a lot of stuff that was left out of the Bible was done for political as well as cultural reasons.

    Enoch and other similar writings could contain the key as to what happened historically. NOT teying to “start” anything, just wanted to see what you think about the whole Goliath/Nephilim/Annunaki theory. 🙂

  4. MadMatt32171 responds:


    I have seen some translations mention dragons (or at least fiery flying serpents), unicorns, and of course the Leviathan and Behemoth, but I have never heard of any reference to mermaids in the 66 canonical books of the Bible. Could you please provide a reference (Book, chapter and verse)?


  5. BoyintheMachine responds:

    Some of these comments are suprising….the bible is not mythological? -Sure, many believers would say that.

    I did some blogs on this a long while back. Here are just a few of the mythological creatures found in the bible.

    God(s), Angels, Demons, Ghosts, Witches, Zombies, Unicorns, Dragons, Satyrs, Sea Serpents, Flying Fiery Serpents, Cockatrice, Giants, Behemoth, Leviathan, Rahab (Sea Monster or Sea Demon) and more appropriate for Cryptomundo, Lilith & her offspring who can take the form of wild & hairy humanoids.

  6. Loren Coleman responds:

    I did not write the script for this program, of course. I merely was interviewed about two groups of possible cryptids – Merbeings and Mokele-mbembe.

    I look forward to the program’s documented links for these cryptids’ appearances in the Bible.

  7. Loren Coleman responds:

    Matt Bille, in the past, shared this, from the AMNH site:

    “A picture from the Nuremburg [sic] Bible of 1483 shows a mermaid, merman and mer-dog swimming near Noah’s Ark. According to this illustration of the Biblical story of the Flood, when land animals were rescued in the ark, the merfolk stayed nearby to weather the storm.”

    It is usually written “Nuremberg Bible of 1483.”

    I shall locate the image, and add it to the posting above.

  8. Bob K. responds:

    As a Bible believer, I find this subject fascinating. There has been much speculation about just what Behemoth & Leviathan are (or perhaps, were). The only description of either animal is found in the Book of Job, yet there is enough detailed information in each description to provide the intelligent inquirer with clues as to the identity of each creature.
    For those who would like to tackle this challenge, the section concerning Behemoth & Leviathan are found in the Book of Job, beginning with the 15th verse of the 40th chapter through to the end of the 41st chapter.

    As for the beast translated ‘unicorn’ in the King James version, I came across this most probable explanation in the venerable Ungers Bible Dictionary : “Heb. re-em, probable Bos primigenious, L., the true auerochs. This animal is now extinct, but certainly existed in Germany in the time of Caesar, and did not probably become extinct in Europe until the middle ages. Caesar decribes it as immense in size, of great strength (Numbers 23:22, 24:8); speed (Psalm 29:6); and ferocity, untamable (Job 39:9,10)….It cannot be..the intention to speak of a fabulous creature like the traditional unicorn,…the re-em had more than one horn (Deut. 33:17)…It early became extinct in Syria-Palestine, and its name transferred to its descendant, the common ox. But the extinct species was notorious for its flatter forehead, colossal strength & ferocity, and its powerful horns of double curvature.”
    Job also gives a corroborating description of the Re-em in Job chapter 39, verses 9 to 12, in which it is contasted with the common ox used as a beast of burden as being completely untamable.

    What is noteworthy about the section of Job in question here (Chapters 38 through 41) is that a number of known animals are also described there, namely the lion, wild donkey, ostrich, mountain goat, deer, horse, and hawk. In light of this, it would be inconsistent to write off leviathan & behemoth as mythical, and a read of this section of Job will bear this out.

  9. korollocke responds:

    I always knew the giant bird of the bibal to be labeled as Ziz, not Zuzu. I have also noticed a simularity of the biblical monsters Ziz and Leviatihan to creatures in thai mythology, namely Garuada and Naga. This also reminds me of an acient american indian legend of a terrible war between river demons and thunder birds, an old BlackFoot man told it to me after I showed him a copy of legend of dinosaurs and monster birds.

  10. watn6789 responds:

    fiery serpents & ropen lights?

  11. watn6789 responds:

    search the bible online…

  12. Terrell H King responds:

    Seems like a great program, will try and catch it at some point.

    The word of God has plenty of references to seemingly mythical animals, but the Bible is the most amazing and indepth record of the history of the ancient near east in existence.

    It is a historical record, and never plays to myths or cross references any other beliefs of the time as any of it’s sources. A study of the ancient near east gives a real context to the veracity of the Bible as opposed to the writings of other cultures of the time such as the egyptians, assyrians or babylonians.

    When it talks of these creatures it does so many times as an illustration. Whether Behemoth, dragons, Leviathan, or the unicorn, it is referring to such as real animals to be referenced off.

    Behemoth is described as the greatest animal of the creation and had a tail like a cedar tree, leading many, including myself to realise that this seems to be describing a sauropod – still possibly extant now in Mokele Mbembe, the Lukwata, the Madidi monster etc.

    The Leviathan mentioned in the book of Job (likely written at the time of Abraham) may well describe a lake monster – it is interesting that not too far north of Abraham’s original home of Ur of the Chaldees is lake Van in Turkey, said to be home to a lake monster.

    Dragons are referred to other 30 times, and if you take into account that we didn’t have the word dinosaur until Richard Owen, then descriptions of large terrible reptiles may refer to living dinosaurs and not beasts assigned to mythology by this secular humanist and post-modern age.

    The unicorn is not referring to a pink horse with a spiral horn that talks, but a very strong animal with a single horn – most likely a rhinoceros. The person with the relation that thinks it is referring to a mythical ‘unicorn’ needs to study the Bible a bit more so she can defend her faith and not make Christians seem like irrational goofballs.

    The Bible is an amazing and true literal record that has stood the test of time, while chronicles of other peoples and religions are crumbling as clay tablets, palace and tomb reliefs and withered scraps of papyrus.

  13. kgehrman responds:

    Oh paleeese!
    Save Cryptomundo from the Creationists. I see them trying to claim it as their own with more and more frequency.

    Some Mormons claim Sasquatch are the descendants of Cain in America.
    I only found this out recently, including the part about Jeff Meldrum, I had no idea he was a Mormon.

    Mr King’s “amazing and true literal record” had so many hundreds of versions and interpretations, it had to be edited and abridged by Constantine’s Council of Nicea into one acceptable “Creed” not “history”. This was done to stop people from reading and repeating stories the Nicean Priests did not like or agree with. Now these stories are called the Apocrypha. They were hidden away from or destroyed by the Nicean papal police. This was a political move to get people under control and start the titheing machine (of church and state alike).

    Sorry, had to get it off my chest. “History is written by the conquerors.” (attributed to Winston Churchill, but of unknown origin).

    Even contemporary history books read by our children are full of lies and half truths. Read about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq or the Domino Theory in Viet Nam and see what kind of malarky has put American youngsters in poppy fields.

    Those cuneiform tablets may be a’crumblin now, but they still told us the story of the wild man Enkidu and of Utnapishtim (whose name was changed to Noah by the later “historians in robes”).

    The herculean efforts that were made to wipe out uncomfortable folklore were largely successful among the “good” believers, but oh them bad ones are out talkin smack.

    A bible was created to brand all other stories (of the same time and subject) as silly or as flights of fancy. Kind of like what most scientists claim hundreds of Sasquatch tales to be.

  14. MadMatt32171 responds:

    I am 99.9% sure that mermaids are not mentioned in the (canonical) Bible – I can’t speak for the apocrypha. If they want to make their case they’ll need to offer better evidence than the artistic license taken by a medieval artist in an illustration.

  15. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    kgehrman–Every one was commenting within the context of the story. No one here was doing any preaching. Sounds like a personal problem to me.

  16. watn6789 responds:


    That’s some carving you have in the Behemoth segment! Do you have any history or links on that?

    Thank you,

  17. Shelley responds:

    Loren, I am so jealous that you got to feed and pet the manatees! While they certainly don’t look like the pictured merpeople, they are so adorable.

    I’m not sure I agree with you that seals are a better candidate, since many cultures hunted seal and used their bodies for many purposes, which would seem to demystify them. But there are few other natural candidates.

  18. Dragonheart responds:

    “… so she can defend her faith and not make Christians seem like irrational goofballs.”

    Rest assured, you already did a perfect job at that. Everyone is entitled to their believes, but that creationism nonsense really gives Christianity (and Islam, etc.) a bad reputation. It’s history denial at it’s best. The universe is only 6000 years old? Oh dear… It seems to me there are some catholic priests that are older than that.

    @HOOSIERHUNTER: Regardless of whether someone is preaching or not, if he throws his opinion out there, there is going to be a reaction.

  19. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    Dragonheart–no one is arguing except the non-religious. Just what is it that makes you people all so hateful and intolerant of any one with religious views? No one attacked you for believing in evolution! As I said, personal problem? Anyway, if you want blame anyone for starting this thread, blame Loren. And let me say that while I may disagree with his views on the age of the universe and origins of the world, I respect the fact that he doesn’t attack people with religious beliefs.

  20. Dragonheart responds:

    Wow, back off right there. Cool down and read my comment again, but this time a little bit slower. I’m going to quote myself here:

    “Everyone is entitled to their believes, but […] creationism…”

    As you can see, I’m not attacking christianity OR religion in general. I’m attacking a small fraction of history deniers that is known to distort evidence and spread lies. If you feel personally attacked because you are a christian, then I’m truly sorry. Most of my friends are christians and we get along well (because luckily christianity does not equal creationism). If you feel attacked because you are a creationist: Well, get over it.

  21. Kronprinz_adam responds:

    There’s an obscure verse in Isaiah 34:14 where the beasts of the night are mentioned, which lived in the desert and in the rocks. There are different translations, but in some ones it is mentioned Lilith, the first wife of Adam that became cursed, the screech owl and the hairy-one, or satyr, calling his mate. (Desert yetis?)

  22. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    Oh I see. So you allow any religious beliefs a person wishes just so long as they don’t question evolution, right? No, I do not believe in evolution. I used to, until I started actually studying the evidence. I was very shocked at what I can only call a grasping for straws to fit discoveries into a theory rather than let the evidence speak for itself. Every time a bone is found evolutionists hoot like monkeys over the newest ancestor of man–all with nothing but an unproven theory full of inconsistencies to back it up. Please, if all Christians had such faith in God as evolutionists do in their theory the rapture would have happened by now.

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