An evolutionary depiction of the beast of beasts
Most creationists today have concluded that the brief, poetic description of Behemoth in Job chapter 40 (vv. 15–24) does not match any modern-day animal, but best fits a sauropod (long-necked, herbivorous) dinosaur, which includes some of the largest known. While absolute finality on this question is elusive, a brief dramatic scene in an influential evolutionary mini-series is worth recounting in this context.
Clash of the titans
It was the second episode of Walking with Dinosaurs (1999), titled ‘Time of the Titans’. The scene depicted a hypothetical battle between a sauropod dinosaur, Diplodocus, and a theropod Allosaurus (a carnivorous dinosaur similar to Tyrannosaurus).
The scene in question will be recounted here, with comparisons between the sauropod depicted with the verses in Job that describe Behemoth:
A young, solitary Diplodocus is feeding on plants, while secretly being hunted by a pair of hungry Allosaurus predators patiently waiting for it to wander from the herd.
Job 40:15: “… he eats grass like an ox.”
Until recently, evolutionists insisted that grass had not evolved yet in dinosaur times—no longer.1
In this scene, one of the predators then charges, leaps and attacks the herbivore’s exposed side. The Diplodocus is injured in the attack, but its legs stand firm, and bear the full weight of the Allosaurus, quickly shrugging off the carnivore.
Job 40:18: “His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron.”
It then tries to flee, going as fast as possible for its size, as the attacker repositions to cut off escape and face the herbivore down. Attempting to protect its vulnerable neck, and intimidate the carnivore with sheer size, the Diplodocus powerfully rears back to stand on its hind legs, as the Allosaurus leaps, trying to snap at its fleshy, long neck.
Job 40:16–17 “Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly … . The sinews of his thighs are knit together.”
Tension rises during the standoff, when an enormous tail seemingly from nowhere suddenly slams the carnivore to the ground, causing dirt and dust to launch from the impact. The salvation of the young dinosaur in this scene has come from the tail of a much larger Diplodocus, and the Allosaurus, though shaken and frustrated, is lucky to be alive and hunt another day.
Job 40:17: “He makes his tail stiff like a cedar.”
The KJV says he “moves” it like a cedar. Any comparison of Behemoth’s tail to the massive trunk of a cedar tree makes it difficult to see this creature as an elephant or hippo, with their relatively puny tails, as modern commentators generally try to do. This is mostly because of their commitment to secular history, which cannot contemplate any dinosaur co-existing with man.
Sizing up sauropods and Behemoth
The size and power of Behemoth are emphasized in the Job passage. Verse 18 calls Behemoth “the first of the ways of God” (KJV: “the chief of the ways of God”), suggesting the largest land animal God created, living or extinct. To this date, that appears to have been a sauropod. Verse 23 says: “Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.”
In addition to the uncertainties of the actual anatomy, abilities and behaviours of sauropods, it’s also important to consider that the sauropod featured in this scene was neither fully grown nor among the most enormous sauropod species to ever shake the earth (see ‘Behemoth—which sauropod, and how big?’, below).
The comparisons in this scene help us put ‘flesh’ on God’s description of this mighty beast. They highlight why, among those who take the Bible’s history seriously, it is widely believed to have been a sauropod dinosaur.
Behemoth—which sauropod, and how big?
Based on Job 40:18, the answer might be ‘the biggest’. But which one was that? Many claims are made to this title. Argentinosaurus huinculensis, for example, was estimated to be 30 m (100 ft) long and weigh at least 50 tonnes (t).2 However, such claims are generally based on fragmentary remains. Another candidate was Dreadnoughtus, with much more of the skeleton, and estimated to be 25 m (80 ft) and 25 tonnes.2 The tail had attachments for very powerful muscles, which is why its discoverers called it “a weaponized tail that was 30 feet long”.
This certainly sounds just the kind of tail that the Bible would compare with a cedar!
When it comes to almost complete skeletons, “the longest might well be Diplodocus carnegii, 25 m (~80’) and 10–16 t; and the most massive dinosaur was probably Giraffatitan brancai (formerly Brachiosaurus brancai), 23 m (75’) and 40 t.”3
By comparison, the predator Allosaurus averaged about 8.5 metres (28 ft) long and mass 1.7 t, with the largest estimated at 9.7 m (32 ft) and 2.3 t.
References and notes
- Catchpoole, D., Grass-eating dinos: A ‘time-travel’ problem for evolution, Creation 29(2):22–23, 2007; creation.com/grass-eating-dinos. Return to text.
- Paul, G. S., The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, p. 231, 2nd edn, Princeton University Press, 2016. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., How big were the dinosaurs, really? Creation 41(3):12–14, 2019; creation.com/dinosize; citing Paul, Ref. 2. Return to text.