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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Were There Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?

dinosaurs on the ark
Cartoon by Mike Peters

People often wonder how all of the animals could have fit on the ark. Often, “bathtub arks” are loaded down with various species of animals, rather than the biblical kind, which is approximately at the family level of biological classification. Noah didn’t need to bring lions, leopards, and tigers onto the ark, just a single pair from the cat kind. We see so many illustrations of large creatures packed tightly into a little boat. But this image is inaccurate too. Noah’s ark was so much larger than it is usually depicted, and many of the animals were probably smaller than are shown in popular pictures.

But the biggest hurdle people have when they see any of our displays of the ark (or visit the Ark Encounter) is seeing dinosaurs depicted on the ark (or in stalls in the Ark Encounter). Due to evolutionary indoctrination, many people can’t picture man living alongside dinosaurs, or if they do, they think of the Jurassic Park/World movies and view all dinosaurs as wanting to trample or eat people. Even if they overcome or set aside this stumbling block, we still get questions of how dinosaurs could even fit on the ark, particularly when considering the massive dinosaurs, especially the sauropods. Other oft-cited “problems” with dinosaurs on the ark are feeding the herbivores the massive amounts of vegetation that the adults eat, feeding the carnivorous ones (and avoiding being eaten by them), and cleaning up after them.

It makes more sense to think that God would have sent to Noah juveniles (or sub-adults) or smaller varieties within the same kind. Consider the following advantages to bringing juveniles or smaller versions of a creature: they take up less space, they eat less, they create less waste, they are often more docile and easier to manage, they are generally less susceptible to injury, and they would have more time to reproduce after the flood. And considering this last point, wasn’t that the end goal of bringing them on board the ark: to keep them alive and to ensure that they would “be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (Genesis 8:17)? Bringing a full-sized dinosaur that only had a few years left and/or was past its reproductive prime seems illogical and wasteful. Neither of those is characteristic of God.

Regarding carnivorous activity, we know from the fossil record (most of which is a testimony of the worldwide, globe-covering flood) that some animals were carnivores in the post-fall/pre-flood world. But even if carnivory was prevalent in the late pre-flood world, it is still possible the animals that God sent did not eat meat or were omnivores that could have survived for one year without meat. There have been modern examples of animals normally considered to be carnivores that refused to eat meat, such as the lion known as Little Tyke. Additionally during times of war or natural disaster when meat was unobtainable, zoos and wildlife parks have utilized meat substitutes1 like nuts, peanut butter, coconuts, beans, soy, and other legumes as their protein-source feed for the animals.2

However, if some of the ark’s animals did eat meat, there are several methods of preserving or supplying their food. Meat can be preserved through drying, smoking, salting, or pickling. Certain fish can pack themselves in mud and survive for years without water—these could have been stored on the ark. Noah may have also brought mealworms and other insects onto the ark as food, and these can be bred for both carnivores and insectivores, providing even necessary amino acids, like taurine. Cricket or grasshopper flour could be baked into breads, as could the ground seeds of gourds. And plants like amaranth and quinoa yield high protein feed. Yeast paste and dried seaweed also contain high amounts of protein and taurine, so Noah quite likely had many options available to him. And occasionally in desperate times, like during the Nazi siege of Leningrad in 1941, even obligate carnivores (in this case, a tiger) have switched to vegetarian diets and survived for several years.

For the plant-eating dinosaurs, the animals brought on board could have eaten compressed hay, other dried grasses, dried vegetables, seeds and grains, legumes, etc. Another factor that may have reduced food consumption for both vegetarian and carnivorous dinosaurs is that they went into a state of hibernation/brumation or torpor. Many reptiles today begin to eat less, reduce their metabolic rate drastically, and then “sleep” for long periods of time when the weather gets a little cooler, virtually eating nothing and waking up only for brief periods to drink before reentering brumation. Often the best conditions for this state are humidity, temperatures between 50° and 68° F (10° and 20° C), and low-light conditions. The outside weather at the time of the flood (rainy and thus likely cool) combined with the lower-light interior compartments of the ark would make ideal hibernation/brumation conditions on the ark. If any of the dinosaurs and other reptiles and amphibians went into brumation, then food requirements would have been severely reduced.

— Troy Lacey, Answers in Genesis, Dinosaurs on the Ark: How It Was Possible, April 28, 2021

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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19 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Emersonian

    AIG is a whole different level of willful dumbness. It’s like they WORK to be stupid. Having been to the Creation Museum when it first opened, I almost had to admire their tenacious efforts at trying to shoehorn biblical literalism into a science-y sounding framework… while also slipping in some amazing overt racism in a few of their displays. Go big or stay home, I guess.

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    I’ve read that logistically, it would’ve been impossible to have even the number of animals creationists say were on the Ark. The necessity for fresh water, the need of animals to evacuate, and then of course, what would they eat and where would it be stored? But that is probably when they proclaim you need faith to figure out their god’s miracle. sigh

    • Avatar
      wyndfox

      Freshwater is an issue off the ark, too! There’s no way brine shrimp (Artemia salina), for instance, could possibly have survived the flood. They’re restricted to lakes because the ocean isn’t salty enough for them.

  3. Avatar
    GeoffT

    I wonder where they stored all the viruses? Where has Covid-19 been kept all this time and has one of Noah’s descendants been keeping it in a glass jar, just waiting to release it on an unsuspecting world?

  4. Avatar
    dale m.

    This is why they have such a hard time understanding environmental sciences. Everything is out of context. If their “god” gave these to Noah, how about putting Noah’s family in a row boat. Pull the plug on the Flood. Then let their “god” place them on Earth once again. What’s the big need for a big boat ?!? Their “god” is supposed to be a magic god, right ?!? I’m waiting to hear Noah discovering atomic physics and deep freeze suspended animation. What next ?!? Flying saucers from hell?!? Time travelling dinosaurs ?!? This guy simply cannot write a descent fairytale. His book would simply have been rejected by most publishers. No believable plot. He needs to go back to writing school to understand the meaning of how important a well thought out plot is to any story. This isn’t even on the level of Hairy Potter yet.

    REJECT ! REJECT! REJECT! REJECT!

  5. Avatar
    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    The Noah story is a parable containing assorted spiritual messages. It is not a recordation of history. Human beings and dinosaurs did not live together at the same time and play together. Dinosaurs would have been great sources of protein. Can you say “tastes like chicken”? To the best of my knowledge, no dinosaur bones with archaeologically distinct human butchering marks on them have ever been found on any archaeological site in the United States.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      Christians just can’t figure out what parts of their bible are literal, metaphor, or just to be ignored because they are inconvenient.

      NOthing like seeing first hand how religion is just bullshit made up by humans. Nothing “spiritual” or magic at all.

  6. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Charles–When in doubt, everything tastes like chicken! Not fried, though.

    As for the Ark: It’s hard enough for ten people to live in a two-bedroom apartment, even when they’re not in a COVID lockdown. So I have a really difficult time imagining how two of every living species could fit into a boat–that ended up perched on top of a mountain when the waters receded.

    I may not know much science, but I know enough not to look for it in the Bible!

  7. Avatar
    Davie from Glasgow

    The pretend science drives me nuts. It is intellectual abuse to expose young minds to such willfully self-crippled thinking. And – as I think I’ve said before – if you look at fast enough breeding species you can actually watch evolution happening. Right in front of your eyes. Not believing in it is like not believing in the sky.

    • Avatar
      wyndfox

      Three-spined sticklebacks are adorable little fish, famous throughout the world for their rapid morphological changes when separated from other populations. They’re among the best examples of an animal we can see evolving before our eyes.
      The coronavirus is an even clearer example of rapid evolution.

  8. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    ah, creationist lies for Christ. It’s so cute to watch them ignore their god and lie and lie and lie.

    It’s also great fun since they admit that faith is not enough at all for them. So much for the christian lie that this god remains “hidden” because it needs christains to believe blindly.

    contradictions, tsk.

  9. Avatar
    Troy

    Something interesting about the book of Genesis, or at least the part that is distinctively a set of tall tales, it is actually the most digestible part of the entire Bible. Perhaps this is why Ken Ham is so drawn to it? There are 4 memorable tales, the creation, Adam and Eve, the flood, and the tower of Babel. I’m curious why tall tales are so entertaining? Similar to a cartoon which simplifies and exaggerates (perceived) reality while omitting the mundane, it is especially something a child might like along with a certain innocence and lack of cynicism that the full wonder can impress.
    While it might be entertaining story telling, to take them seriously and try to explain tall tales with a dash of science like Ken Ham does here? Despicable.

  10. Avatar
    Sage

    Far be it from me to argue logic and science with creationists, because it is futile, but brumation happens in cold blooded reptiles, and dinosaurs are thought to be warm blooded. I know it’s hard to keep up when you try to force science into strict bible reading, but they should try.

    This whole effort to use science to prove the Bible, but warp science and ignore logic to make it fit, is amazingly stupid. It’s just much easier to say the stories may not be accurate, or explanations of events as understood by ancient cultures. After all, the Jesus story really doesn’t need the ark. And none of these stories are really required for god to exist.

    Well, at least we took the rainbow back and updated it to have a modern meaning. 🌈🌈🌈🌈

  11. Avatar
    William

    I have heard it said by some fundamentalists that dinosaur bones and fossils are placed in the earth by Satan to deceive people. In an evangelistic bubble, answers in genesis are taking the ‘reasonable’ approach by not denying they existed, no, instead they say they were all crammed on to a boat and they lived beside mankind.

    Reading sites such as AIG trying to explain dinosaurs is almost as painful as watching people try to explain why God’s country, USA isn’t mentioned in the Bible… because there is always the frantic notion that the Bible mentions neither because it was a non supernatural book and the authors had never heard of America or T-Rex’s.

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Bruce Gerencser