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Noah and the Animals—Part 1: How Could Noah Fit all the Animals on the Ark?

by Ark Encounter on April 25, 2014

This series of blog posts will address some of the many questions people have asked about the Ark animals before, during, and after the Flood.

Question: How could Noah possibly fit all of those animals on the Ark?

This is one of the most-asked questions we receive as a ministry. Although we have answered it many times before, it continues to be a trouble spot for people for many reasons.

One cause for the confusion surely is due to the “bathtub arks” commonly depicted in children’s storybooks, wallpaper, and toys. These things give people an entirely wrong impression of how large the Ark truly was. Rather than being a cute toy with the giraffes’ heads popping out of the roof that would be toppled by the waves, the biblical Ark was a massive vessel, at least one and a half football fields in length.

The second reason for the misunderstanding has to do with the number of animals required to be on the Ark. Secularists often claim that millions of animals would have been necessary based on the number of species of animals on earth. There are a couple of problems with this suggestion. Noah did not need to bring every species of animal; he was instructed to bring every “kind” of animal, which is much more like the family level in modern taxonomy. Also, he did not need to bring the sea creatures and may not have needed to take insects on board. Removing these creatures from the total count drastically reduces the actual number of animals Noah would have brought on board.

Skeptics frequently scoff at the notion that Noah did not need to bring millions of animals on board the Ark, but have they ever taken the time to figure out how many animals would have been required? Over the past several years, researchers have been working on a detailed study to do just that. The Answers Research Journal has published the findings of these researchers on the mammals, salamanders and newts, frogs, birds, turtles and crocodiles, and snakes (the studies on lizards and the extinct animals have not been published yet).

Creation researchers are using a “worst-case scenario” approach. That is, since hybridization data (i.e., information on which animals are capable of interbreeding) is lacking on many of the animals, the creatures that may be of the same “kind” are still separated giving a higher total than necessary. For example, a particular family of salamanders is divided into 26 different “kinds” even though researchers are quite certain they all belong to the same kind.

So how many animals were on the Ark? The total number of kinds (not including the forthcoming studies on lizards and the extinct animals) determined by researchers so far is less than 600. Of course, there were two each of the unclean animals and seven, or seven pairs, of the clean animals and winged creatures. Even when using the “worst case scenario” for the number of animals, it appears that the final count will be well under 5,000 animals. Consider that a recent study at the University of Leicester demonstrated that an Ark built to the dimensions given in Scripture would have floated with 70,000 animals.

Finally, one point that stands out in this research is that only eight percent of the animals weigh more than 10 kg while 78 percent weigh less than 1 kg. We understand that this study does not yet include the dinosaurs. But most dinosaur kinds were not very large, and even the grandest of dinosaurs started out small. It makes sense for God to send juvenile animals to Noah for many reasons: they eat less, are more resilient, take up less room, and will have more years to reproduce after the Flood.

We believe people will be quite surprised at how well the animals would have fit on such an enormous vessel. The Ark Encounter will demonstrate how this common objection and many more like it really have no basis when one understands the details of the account. To find out more about the Ark Encounter and how you can join us in building this gospel proclaiming project, please visit arkencounter.com.