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Post-Flood race for survival

Published: 29 February 2020 (GMT+10)

Would predators hunt prey to extinction as they come off Noah’s Ark?

Would animals have to run for their lives as soon as they got off the Ark? Would some go extinct as they got hunted by predators? Sarah B. from Canada writes:

How did Noah let the animals off of the ark? I’m imaging that if he let 2 lions, and 2 antelope out at the same time that the lions would eat the antelope, and then the antelope would be extinct. How was extinction of certain species prevented when the animals would have been eating each other? Thanks!

CMI Canada’s Thomas Bailey responds:

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for writing in. This is an interesting question; one we don’t get very often. Genesis 8:18–19 reads, “So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.” While this implies that all the animals disembarked at the same time, the term “by families” may mean there was some time lag between herbivores and carnivores. We can’t really know for certain.

However, let us consider a few possible alternatives to immediate post-Flood carnivory. First of all, it’s quite likely that the carnivores on board the Ark did not eat fresh meat during the year-long flood. It would have been possible to bring dried meat on board and some carnivores can survive without meat for a time, as all did before the Fall. Some even do so today. See The lion that wouldn’t eat meat and Lea, the spaghetti lioness. So it would be possible for carnivores to subsist on plant matter for a time after the Flood as well; but they probably didn’t need to.

Creation researcher John Woodmorappe in his landmark study Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study discusses several other possibilities. For instance, of the many animals that were killed during the Flood, some would have been deeply buried and possibly turned into a jelly relatively free of bacteria. Even today, Inuit people bury thousands of fish in large pits in order to eat the resultant jelly later. Dogs eat this jelly as well. Experiments in recent years have shown that a cadaver can be exhumed after several years and not be reduced to a skeleton. Exhumed carrion was likely a major food source for carnivores after the Flood, and not just scavengers. Other carnivores, such as lions and tigers, will also eat carrion. In fact, lions often prefer it to a fresh kill. Some carnivores prefer carrion simply because it’s often easier to obtain.

Also, animals that sank deeply in the floodwater would have experienced a reduction in bacterial decomposition. Even those in shallow water could have been preserved for up to five years by a reaction of body fat and water resulting in adipocere, or ‘grave wax’. There also would have been fish trapped in pools of water left after the retreating floodwaters. Consider also that fish did not need to be on the Ark and while many died in the Flood, some survived; probably significantly more than two of each created kind. Many types of fish reproduce rapidly when the water is full of nutrients, as it would have been immediately post-Flood; so this would have quickly provided another source of meat.

I hope this has been helpful. For more about this and many other questions about Noah’s Flood, I recommend Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study by John Woodmorappe. Thank you for your support.

Thomas Bailey

Readers’ comments

David P.
It occurs to me that if herbivores went out at a different time to their normal predators, and if the land was well vegetated by then, finding them would have been very difficult because of their low numbers at first, like the proverbial needle in a haystack. They wouldn't have been preyed upon until their numbers increased to the point that finding them was not so hard.
Gary D.
I think they ate the dinosaurs... JK
Thomas Bailey
While predation was probably one factor in the eventual extinction of the dinosaurs, there's plenty of documented evidence that dinosaurs survived up until a few hundred years ago. See /dinosaur-questions-and-answers.
David P.
Oh well done CMI. You continue to keep me amused. You must be the only folk in the world who (apparently) believe that dinosaurs were led and fed in to some wooden ark and kept alongside lions and hippos, kangaroos (all the way from Oz?) not forgetting penguins and polar bears walked from Canada. But hey what about mammoths from Siberia? Hope they didn't get confused with elephants. And of course the million or so species of beetles and butterflies to say nothing of floods as deep as Mount Everest - was the whole earth not covered by water?
Thomas Bailey
You're confusing post-Flood topography and fauna distribution with that of the pre-flood world. You've also missed the specification that only land-dwelling air-breathing animals (nephesh chayyah) and birds needed to be on board, while insects could survive on mats of vegetation or on the hull of the ark. And you've confused "created kind" (baramin) with modern-day species. In future, please read the text more carefully and consult our website for further information before submitting such tired old objections that have been thoroughly dealt with several times. See /noahs-flood-questions-and-answers.
Philippus S.
God is and was always in control, just like he shut the Lions mouths in Daniel in the Lion's Den time. Dan 6:1-28
Dan 6:19  Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 
Dan 6:20  And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 
Dan 6:21  Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 
Dan 6:22  My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 
Dan 6:23  Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. 
Thomas Bailey
Indeed, God is in control and can certainly do the miraculous.The point of the article though,is that He doesn't always need to intervene supernaturally. Sometimes, there are perfectly logical explanations, such as cages, etc. In this lifetime, we'll probably never know the precise means God used to preserve the animals after they disembarked. But there are plausible explanations with which we can answer the skeptic.
Robert R.
Remember too that while one pair of every kind of unclean animal was brought on the ark, seven pairs of the clean animals were brought, and seven pairs of every kind of bird (see Genesis 7: 2-3), "to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth".
Nathan G.
I think that many of the comments here are forgetting that trillions of fossils formed during the flood. There are lots of fossilized bones with teeth marks in them, crushed vertebrae, etc. There are also thorns on plant fossils. Many animals therefore had already fallen to carnivory before the flood. There is also evidence of cancer, parasites, and disease, since the world was fallen and imperfect after the Garden. And just because God officially allowed Noah and his offspring to eat meat after debarking the ark means little. It does not at all imply that the pre-flood, sinful humans that God decided to destroy obeyed his strict command to only eat plants before the flood. That was probably one of the many evil deeds he judged them for, not just murder, theft and credit card fraud. ;)
Brock W.
Is there anything incorrect with suggesting that some prey animals did go extinct from being hunted and eaten by carnivores? We simply would have no way to know if the two wolves hunted down the family of, for a humorous example, jackalopes right away after desembarking the ark. We (today) would never have known the jackalopes once existed.
Stephen H.
Great site, + article. Can't help thinking that the Almighty who brought them all safely to The Ark, would disperse them all safely too!
Mark P.
Let’s also remember that the kinds on the ark, including felid, were “generic” because they had to carry enough genetic information to specialize (speciate) as all of the current animals. So to imagine carnivore ancestors departing the ark to be as “optimized” as lions to hunt herbivores might be an anachronism.
Micah S.
A small aside, I've heard it said that the 7 clean animals an the ark were 7 male-female pairs. Is there a difference in the language, or could there be 2 pairs of each unclean animal?
Shaun Doyle
It was most likely just one pair of unclean animals. See Birds on the Ark.
Tony M.
No where in the Scriptures does it say "and two by two the unclean animals came out and seven by the seven the clean". They were in that huge salvific zoological barge for over a year with plenty of room to expand their population of creatures, or better said "being fruitful and multiplying". They had one hundred years to prepare food supplies for a ONE year plus voyage and more to spare when they came off. Some animals would multiply faster on board, others not so fast (in the space of an year). Nowhere in Scripture does it say that God changed their breeding behavior and heat cycles. When they disembarked there was plenty of prey for the predators but also plenty more to populate FASTER.
Rory L.
When I was just a lad, I used to go down to my grandfather's barn, where he had an interesting assortment of creatures. I learned quickly that young animals, no matter how fiesty they might be when they were older, were easy to handle. So I grew up quite convinced that Noah had sense enough to load only very young animals. I am of the same opinion still.
John C.
Congratulations on a very good insight, Michael. And Bro Bailey's article is excellent, as well. His quotation of Genesis 8:19 set me on a concordance search. In Genesis 6:20 (where God commands the animals to come into the ark), the word 'kind' in the KJV, as in Genesis 1, is translated from the Hebrew 'min.' But in 8:19, the word 'kinds' is from the Hebrew 'mispaha,' whose primary meaning is 'family.' This would clear up many things. Just as humans would depart from Babel by language groups, so here the animals leave the ark by populations, not just pairs. The Bible is truly a wonderful book, and God has taken such care to preserve it for us. Endless praise to Him, and an 'attaboy' (and 'attagirl') to everyone at CMI.
Dominick M.
That is something I never thought about, great question! And as always great insightful answer and food for thought! I thank God that I go to a church where our pastor believes in the Geneses history. If fact he has me give a short Power Point presentation called "Consider the Creator" at the start of our Wed night Bible study. And so it's a great blessing to have CMI and the other Creation focused ministries where I can find the many resources and answers to help others see the reliability of the Bible!
Elizabeth S.
It is interesting that humans only became carnivores after the flood (Gen 9:1-4) - perhaps only then did animals turn on each other
Shaun Doyle
Michael B.
I would add that these animals were residents of the ark for a year. I would imagine that there is a good likelihood that many already had a head start in breeding while onboard. Rabbits are always a favorite example that come to mind for possible multiple generations in that year, animals like sheep the females could have birthed twice and the first generation ready to do so as well as they exit... just some additional thoughts.
Your Brother in Christ,
Thomas Bailey
Indeed, Genesis 8:19 reads, " Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark." The precise number of each family is not specified.
David H.
There are many high alpine lakes worldwide. Many contain "native species" of fish - meaning mankind did not "plant" them in these remote lakes.
Some may have migrated up rivers from the ocean, but not over tall water falls.
Therefore, these remote fish must have survived the flood, reproduced and adapted to their environment - especially to non-salty water.
I'm thinking fresh fish may have been an early source of protein for the carnivores, after all, lions are just big cats...what cat does not like fresh (high mountain lake) trout?
Frederic R.
AS I read the Bible, there were no carnivores on the ark. While they were present, Genesis 1:11-13 says that on the third day God spoke and all vegetation was created of all kinds and Genesis 1: 29-30 says that God gave to all every green plant for food. My interpretation of this is that all animals, including future carnivores relied on the produce of all kinds of plants for food. It was only after the flood that carnivores started killing and eating flesh for food, at the same time as the fear and dread of man fell on all creatures and everything was given to man as food, with conditions, Genesis 9:2-3.
Shaun Doyle
Though man wasn't permitted to eat meat until after the Flood, that says nothing about when different types of animals first became carnivores after the Fall. For more information, please see Feeding carnivores on the Ark, and refuting an accusation of ‘closet scientism’.
Michael M.
Thank you LORD for CMI because I am just amazed by how many different questions get put to them and they keep coming up with great answers and great insight into the Word of God and your natural creation - Thank you! God bless you CMI and keep up the good fight!
Jim M.
An interesting thought occurred to me while reading this. Even though the unclean animals went on as single pairs would they have disembarked as single pairs. Especially the smaller animals which have a propensity to, as they say, breed like rabbits. So it is entirely possible that by the time that Noah released them he may have well been almost overrun. This may also help to explain some of the, apparently, redundant space that is revealed in John Woodmorappe's study. Just thinking.

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