Creation - Age Of The Earth
How did all the animals
fit on Noah's Ark?
A detailed and updated
technical study of this and many other questions.
by Jonathan Sarfati
skeptics assert that the Bible must
be wrong, because they claim that the Ark could not possibly have
carried all the different types of animals. This has persuaded some
Christians to deny the Genesis Flood, or believe that it was only a
local flood involving comparatively few local animals. But usually they
have not actually performed the calculations. On the other hand, the
classic creationist book The Genesis Flood
contained a detailed analysis as far back as 1961. 
more detailed and updated technical
study of this and many other questions is John Woodmorappe’s book Noah’s
Ark: a Feasibility Study (see the end of this article). This
article is based on material in these books plus some independent
calculations. There are two questions to ask:
- How many types of animals did Noah need to take?
- Was the Ark’s volume large enough to carry all the
1) How many types of animals did Noah need to
relevant passages are Genesis
6:19-20 and Genesis 7:2-3.
"And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every
sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they
shall be male and female.
Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every
creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall
come unto thee, to keep them alive."
"Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens,
the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the
male and his female.
Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep
seed alive upon the face of all the earth."
- In the original
Hebrew, the word for ‘beast’ and
‘cattle’ in these passages is the same: behemah,
and it refers to land vertebrate animals in general. The word for
‘creeping things’ is remes, which has a number of
different meanings in Scripture, but here it probably refers to
Noah did not need to take sea creatures 
because they would not necessarily be threatened with extinction by a
flood. However, turbulent water would cause massive carnage, as seen in
the fossil record, and many oceanic species probably did become extinct
because of the Flood.
if God in His wisdom had decided not to
preserve some ocean creatures, this was none of Noah’s business. Noah
did not need to take plants either - many could have survived as seeds,
and others could have survived on floating mats of vegetation. Many
insects and other invertebrates were small enough to have survived on
these mats as well. The Flood wiped out all land animals which breathed
through nostrils except those on the Ark
(Genesis 7:22). Insects do not breathe through nostrils but through
tiny tubes in their exterior skeleton.
Bible commentators are evenly divided about whether the Hebrew means
‘seven’ or ‘seven pairs’ of each type of clean animal. Woodmorappe
takes the latter just to concede as much to the biblioskeptics as
possible. But the vast majority of animals are not clean, and were
represented by only two specimens each. The term ‘clean animal’ was not
defined until the Mosaic Law. But since Moses was also the compiler of
Genesis, if we follow the principle that ’Scripture interprets
Scripture’, the Mosaic Law definitions can be applied to the Noahic
situation. There are actually very few ’clean’ land animals listed in
Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.
- What is a
God created a number of different types of animals with much capacity
for variation within limits. 
The descendants of each of these different kinds, apart from humans,
would today mostly be represented by a larger grouping than what is
called a species. In most cases, those species descended from a
particular original kind would be grouped today within what modern
taxonomists (biologists who classify living things) call a genus
common definition of a species is a group of
organisms which can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, and
cannot mate with other species. However, most of the so-called species
(obviously all the extinct ones) have not been tested to see what they
can or cannot mate with. In fact, not only are there known crosses
between so-called species, but there are many instances of
trans-generic matings, so the ‘kind’ may in some cases be as high as
the family. Identifying the ‘kind’ with the genus is also consistent
with Scripture, which spoke of kinds in a way that the Israelites could
easily recognize without the need for tests of reproductive isolation.
example, horses, zebras and donkeys are probably
descended from an equine (horse-like) kind, since they can interbreed,
although the offspring are sterile. Dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals
are probably from a canine (dog-like) kind. All different types of
domestic cattle (which are clean animals) are descended from the Aurochs,
so there were probably at most seven (or fourteen) domestic cattle
aboard. The Aurochs itself may have been descended
from a cattle kind including bisons and water buffaloes. We know that
tigers and lions can produce hybrids called tigons and ligers, so it is
likely that they are descended from the same original kind.
totals about 8000 genera, including
extinct genera, thus about 16,000 individual animals which had to be
aboard. With extinct genera, there is a tendency among some
paleontologists to give each of their new finds a new genus name. But
this is arbitrary, so the number of extinct genera is probably highly
overstated. Consider the sauropods, which were the largest dinosaurs -
the group of huge plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus,
Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, etc. There are 87 sauropod genera
commonly cited, but only 12 are ‘firmly established’ and another 12 are
considered ‘fairly well established’.
- One commonly raised
problem is ‘How could you fit all
those huge dinosaurs on the Ark?’ First, of the 668 supposed dinosaur
genera, only 106 weighed more than ten tons when fully grown. Second,
as said above, the number of dinosaur genera is probably greatly
exaggerated. But these numbers are granted by Woodmorappe to be
generous to skeptics. Third, the Bible does not say that the animals
had to be fully grown. The largest animals were probably represented by
‘teenage’ or even younger specimens. The median size of all animals on
the ark would actually have been that of a small rat, according to
Woodmorappe’s up-to-date tabulations, while only about 11 % would have
been much larger than a sheep.
- Another problem
often raised by atheists and theistic
evolutionists is ‘how did disease germs survive the flood?’ This is a
leading question - it presumes that germs were as specialized and
infectious as they are now, so all the Ark’s inhabitants must have been
infected with every disease on earth. But germs were probably more
robust in the past, and have only fairly recently lost the ability to
survive in different hosts or independently of a host. In fact, even
now many germs can survive in insect vectors or corpses, or in the
dried or frozen state, or be carried by a host without causing disease.
Finally, loss of resistance to disease is consistent with the general
degeneration of life since the Fall. 
2) Was the ark's volume large enough to carry all
the necessary types?
Ark measured 300x50x30 cubits
(Genesis 6:15) which is about 140x23x13.5 metres or 459x75x44 feet, so
its volume was 43500 m3 (cubic metres) or 1.54
million cubic feet. To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent
volume of 522 standard American railroad stock cars, each of which can
hold 240 sheep.
the animals were kept in cages with
an average size of 50x50x30 centimetres (20x20x12 inches), that is
75,000 cm3 (cubic centimetres) or 4800 cubic
inches, the 16,000 animals would only occupy 1200 m3
(42,000 cubic feet) or 14.4 stock cars. Even if a million insect
species had to be on board, it would not be a problem, because they
require little space. If each pair was kept in cages of 10 cm (four
inches) per side, or 1000 cm3, all the insect
species would occupy a total volume of only 1000 m3,
or another 12 cars. This would leave room for five trains of 99 cars
each for food, Noah’s family and ‘range’ for the animals. However,
insects are not included in the meaning of behemah
or remes in Genesis 6:19-20, so Noah probably would
not have taken them on board as passengers anyway.
the total volume is fair
enough, since this shows that there would be plenty of room on the Ark
for the animals with plenty left over for food, range etc. It would be
possible to stack cages, with food on top or nearby (to minimize the
amount of food carrying the humans had to do), to fill up more of the
Ark space, while still allowing plenty of room for gaps for air
circulation. We are discussing an emergency situation, not necessarily
luxury accommodation. Although there is plenty of room for exercise,
skeptics have overstated animals’ needs for exercise anyway.
if we don’t allow stacking one cage
on top of another to save floor space, there would be no problem.
Woodmorappe shows from standard recommended floor space requirements
for animals that all of them together would have needed less than half
the available floor space of the Ark’s three decks. This arrangement
allows for the maximum amount of food and water storage on top of the
cages close to the animals.
Ark would probably have carried
compressed and dried foodstuffs, and probably a lot of concentrated
food. Perhaps Noah fed the cattle mainly on grain, plus some hay for
fibre. Woodmorappe calculated that the volume of foodstuffs would have
been only about 15 % of the Ark’s total volume. Drinking water would
only have taken up 9.4 % of the volume. This volume would be reduced
further if rainwater was collected and piped into troughs.
is doubtful whether the humans had to
clean the cages every morning. Possibly they had sloped floors or
slatted cages, where the manure could fall away from the animals and be
flushed away (plenty of water around!) or destroyed by vermicomposting
(composting by worms) which would also provide earthworms as a food
source. Very deep bedding can sometimes last for a year without needing
a change. Absorbent material (e.g. sawdust, softwood wood shavings and
especially peat moss) would reduce the moisture content and hence the
space, feeding and excretory
requirements were adequate even if the animals had normal day/night
sleeping cycles. But hibernation is a possibility which would reduce
these requirements even more. It is true that the Bible does not
mention it, but it does not rule it out either. Some creationists
suggest that God created the hibernation instinct for the animals on
the Ark, but we should not be dogmatic either way.
skeptics argue that food taken on
board rules out hibernation, but this is not so. Hibernating animals do
not sleep all winter, despite popular portrayals, so they would still
need food occasionally.
article has shown that the Bible can
be trusted on testable matters like Noah’s Ark. Many Christians believe
that the Bible can only be trusted on matters of faith and morals, not
scientific matters. But we should consider what Jesus Christ Himself
told Nicodemus (John 3:12):
I have told you earthly
things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of
if the Scriptures can be wrong
on testable matters such as geography, history and science, why should
they be trusted on matters like the nature of God and life after death,
which are not open to empirical testing? Hence Christians should "be
ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of
the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15), when skeptics claim
that the Bible conflicts with known ‘scientific facts’.
would be able to follow this
command and answer skeptics’ anti-Ark arguments effectively, if they
read John Woodmorappe’s book Noah’s Ark: a Feasibility Study.
This remarkable book is the most complete analysis ever published
regarding the gathering of animals to the Ark, provisions for their
care and feeding, and the subsequent dispersion. For example, some
skeptics have claimed that the post-Flood ground would be too salty for
plants to grow. Woodmorappe points out that salt can be readily leached
out by rainwater.
has devoted seven years to
this scholarly, systematic answer to virtually all the anti-Ark
arguments, alleged difficulties with the Biblical account, and other
relevant questions. Nothing else like this has ever been written before
- a powerful vindication of the Genesis Ark account.
has just the sort of facts and details
that kids find fascinating, and would make an excellent source of
information for enhancing Bible study projects and class lessons on the
Ark and Flood. Anyone interested in answering the many questions about
the ark, especially from skeptics, would be advised to read Noah’s
- J.C. Whitcomb, and
H.M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, Phillipsburg, New
Jersey, USA, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1961. Return to text.
- A.J. Jones, ‘How
many animals on the Ark?’ Creation Research Society Quarterly
10(2):16-18, 1973. Return
- It is high time
that certain atheistic skeptics showed some intellectual integrity and
actually read the Bible. Then they would stop making ridiculous
comments about whales flopping up gang-planks and fish-tanks on the
Ark. Return to text.
- One common fallacy
brought up by evolutionists is that variation within a kind somehow
proves particles-to-people evolution. The examples commonly cited, e.g.
peppered moths and antibiotic resistance in bacteria, are indeed
examples of natural selection. But this is not
evolution. Evolution requires the generation of new
information, while natural selection sorts and can remove
information due to loss of genetic diversity. Natural selection can
account for variations, but cannot account for the origin
of bacteria or moths. With the moths, natural selection merely changed
the ratios of black and peppered forms. Both types
were already present in the population, so nothing new was produced.
The same applies to different breeds of dogs. By selecting individuals
which are very large or very small, Great Danes and Chihuahuas were
bred. But these breeds have lost the information contained in genes for
certain sizes. See Creation 18(2):20-23.Return to text.
- J.S. McIntosh,
Sauropoda, in Wieshampel, D.B. et al., The Dinosauria,
University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 345, 1992. Return to text.
- C. Wieland,
‘Diseases on the Ark’, Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal
8(1):16-18, 1994. Viruses often become much
more infectious by random mutations causing changes in their protein
coats. This makes it harder for the antibodies to recognize them, but
there is no increase in information content, so no real evolution. Return to text.
- Reason and
Revelation, May 1996. Return to
JONATHAN D. SARFATI, B.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D., F.M.
Dr Sarfati obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Victoria
University of Wellington, New Zealand, and has co-authored papers on
high temperature superconductors and selenium-containing ring and
cage-shaped molecules. He now works full-time for Creation Science
Foundation in Brisbane, Australia. He is a former New Zealand Chess
from CREATION ex nihilo
Volume 19 Number 2
March - May 1997
The information on this page has been obtained from Creation Ministries International,
a non-denominational ministry.
© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2013. Last updated July, 2020.
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