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The Paleosaurus in The Giant Behemoth
Alternate names Behemoth, Overgrown Alligator
Species Dinosaur
Height ~100 feet
Length ~200 feet
Place(s) of emergence North Atlantic Ocean
Enemies Humans
Written by Eugène Lourié, Daniel James
Designed by Willis O'Brien
Modeled by Willis O'Brien, Pete Peterson[1]
First appearance The Giant Behemoth

The Paleosaurus is a giant fictional dinosaur who serves as the antagonist of the 1959 British-American giant monster film The Giant Behemoth.


The name "Behemoth" is an Anglicization of the Hebrew name "Bəhēmōṯ". The name refers to a gigantic land animal referenced in the story of Job from the Torah and Old Testament, as well as extrabiblical Jewish apocrypha. The word has since become part of the English lexicon to refer to anything of great size. The name "Paleosaurus" is likely derived from the real world fossil genus Palaeosaurus, which was first discovered in England. The fossil is likely a primitive sauropodomorph dinosaur, a group with a passing physical similarity to the movie monster. However, the name has fallen out of usage in modern paleontology due to the remains being indeterminate.


It was originally planned for Ray Harryhausen to contribute to the special effects for The Giant Behemoth, but Harryhausen was already working on The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Director Eugène Lourié turned to Pete Peterson and Willis O'Brien, whom he met during the production of The Black Scorpion two years earlier, to work on the film.[2] The Paleosaurus' animated shots were created solely by Peterson and O'Brien was responsible for creating the stop-motion puppet, the live action plates and the mechanical head and neck props with Phil Kellison.[1]


The Paleosaurus has a quadrupedal build resembling a sauropod dinosaur with traits of a European dragon. The limbs are thick and column-like, with reptilian paws at the ends terminating in four clawed toes. Its tail and neck are both long, as lengthy as the torso each, and robust. The face is wide and rectangular in shape, with mobile lips often curling back to reveal a row of sharp teeth in front of a long tongue. The hide of the creature is covered chiefly in small, pebble-like scales. The dorsum of the animal from the back to the tail is lined by short, triangular spines similar to those seen in medieval depictions of dragons and sea monsters.

While The Giant Behemoth was filmed in black and white, production images and the poster give the creature a dark green coloration.


In The Giant Behemoth, the Paleosaurus is a genus of dinosaur known from fossils. A living specimen was irradiated by nuclear waste dumping, possibly spurring it to grow magnitudes larger while also being lethally radioactive.


The Giant Behemoth

Likely awakened and mutated by nuclear waste dumping in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Paleosaurus became lethally irradiated and was slowly being poisoned by the radiation. It sought the River Thames in the United Kingdom; as its species journeyed to bodies of fresh water, they instinctively remembered when they sensed their death approaching. Maddened by the radioactive elements in its body, the creature periodically released pulses of electricity as a defensive ability which delivered lethal doses of the radiation to anything close by. American radiation specialists Dr. Steve Karnes, having previously given lectures on the dangers of radioactivity on marine life, became aware of these events and investigated alongside his British mentor, Professor James Bickford.

Karnes and Bickford discovered the death of a fisherman who'd suffered from radiation poisoning after he witnessed the dinosaur coming ashore, with the dying man's last words being "Behemoth!" This, along with the discovery of a giant footprint matching fossilized tracks, led the two to speculate a living dinosaur was the culprit of the odd happenings. Their belief was further vindicated when a passenger ship was attacked at sea, then left radioactively contaminated with all passengers lost.

After the Paleosaurus killed scores of marine life and several fishermen en route to the River Thames, tracking the creature proved difficult as its unique energy output made it all but impossible to accurately locate on radar. The creature made landfall in London, catching authorities by surprise, and went on a lengthy rampage. Flattening cars and irradiating crowds of fleeing civilians, it shrugged off efforts by the British Army to stop it. Enraged after getting shocked by a series of power lines, the Paleosaurus tore the towers and cables down and caused a large fire. Making its way towards the Tower of London, it was startled by the powerful spotlights shined on its face and stomped down on the London Bridge. Collapsing the structure, the Paleosaurus swam off into the sea.

Efforts to kill the creature were complicated by its highly radioactive body, with the worry that a sufficiently powerful enough explosive to kill it could spread contaminating tissue and fallout across London. The alternative idea was to induce a more rapid onset of the radioactive poisoning already affecting the creature by means of a radium-filled torpedo. Karnes disembarked in a submarine armed with the torpedo to confront the creature in the River Thames. After an initial setback, a successful launch and injection of radium managed to kill the dinosaur. However, soon afterward scores of irradiated dead fish began to appear across the Atlantic on the American East Coast, implying that another Paleosaurus would soon appear.



The Paleosaurus was highly resistant to small arms fire.


Since the Paleosaurus was saturated with radiation from atomic bomb testing, the British military was unable to use more powerful weapons against the monster, due to the risk of spreading radioactive contamination.

Electro-radiation pulse

In its natural habitat, the Paleosaurus was capable of generating a bio-electric pulse to aid in catching prey or self-defense. Following its irradiation, the pulse gained radioactive qualities, becoming powerful enough to fatally burn humans, melt weapons-grade steel, or short out electrical systems.

Radioactive bile

As a side effect of the radiation that was slowly killing it, the Paleosaurus periodically secreted a waxy irradiated substance similar to ambergris that would wash up on beaches. The bile was extremely toxic to marine life and able to burn human flesh on contact.


With the Paleosaurus already slowly dying from radiation poisoning, the humans were able to kill it by shooting a radium-filled torpedo into the creature's mouth, increasing the amount of radiation in its body to fatal levels.


Main article: Paleosaurus/Gallery.


  • A dinosaur modeled on the Paleosaurus appears together with a dinosaur modeled on the Rhedosaurus from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in card #10 (of 55) of the Topps trading card series Dinosaurs Attack!, "Italy Under Seige [sic]!" The two dinosaurs are shown fighting each other at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    • This battle was also shown in issue #2 of the 2013 5-issue comic book miniseries Dinosaurs Attack! by IDW Publishing, an adaptation of the trading card series. After manifesting in Italy, the two monsters battled, with the Paleosaurus shoving its rival through the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    • In issue #4 of the same miniseries, the Paleosaurus is seen as part of a charge against the U.S. military forces. Several other creatures are also included, with some of them resembling dinosaurian characters such as Godzilla (who leads the charge), Anguirus, Rodan, the Rhedosaurus, Gorgo, Reptilicus, and Gertie the Dinosaur, among others.[3]
  • While several of the Bible passages that describe the Biblical Behemoth are referenced in the film during the funeral scene, the passages orated by the pastor conducting the funeral that foreshadow the Paleosaurus' abilities are not referring to the Biblical creature. The passages about "burning lights" from the animal's mouth with sparks of fire shooting out is actually a reference to another Biblical creature, Leviathan. The two monsters are described back to back in chapters 40-41 of the Book of Job.
    • Ironically, as a violent, sea-going reptile with fiery and light-producing abilities, the Paleosaurus more closely resembles the Biblical Leviathan in appearance. By comparison, the Biblical Behemoth is described with mammalian attributes such as tusks or horns, a herbivorous diet, and a tail that sways like a cedar tree.[4]

See also


This is a list of references for Paleosaurus. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Berry 2005, pp. 122-123.
  2. Berry 2005, p. 121.
  3. Dinosaurs Attack Homages.jpg
  4. Uehlinger 1999, pp. 166-167.


  • Berry, Mark F. (16 August 2005). The Dinosaur Filmography. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 978-0786424535.
  • Uehlinger, C. (1999). Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780802824912.


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