Were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?
First published: 3 April 2000 (GMT+10)
Re-featured on homepage: 4 August 2016 (GMT+10)
1. Were dinosaurs even around then?
The story we have all heard from movies, television, newspapers, and most magazines and textbooks is that dinosaurs ‘ruled the Earth’ for 140 million years, died out 65 million years ago, and therefore weren’t around when Noah and company set sail on the Ark around 4300 years ago.
However, the Bible gives a completely different view of Earth (and therefore, dinosaur) history. As God’s written Word to us, we can trust it to tell the truth about the past. (For more information about the reliability of Scripture, see Q&A: Bible.)
Although the Bible does not tell us exactly how long ago it was that God made the world and its creatures, we can make a good estimate of the age of the universe by carefully studying the whole counsel of Scripture:
God made everything in six days, and rested on the seventh. (By the way, this is the basis for our seven day week—Exodus 20:8–11). Leading Hebrew scholars indicate that, based on the grammatical structure of Genesis 1, these ‘days’ were normal-length, and did not represent long periods of time (see Q&A: Genesis).
We are told God created the first man and woman—Adam and Eve—on Day Six, along with the land animals (which would have included dinosaurs).
The Bible records the genealogies from Adam to Christ. From the ages given in these lists (and accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth around 2000 years ago), we can conclude that the universe is only a few thousand years old (perhaps just 6000), and not millions of years old (see also The earth: how old does it look?, especially under Jesus and the age of the world). Thus, dinosaurs lived within the past few thousand years.
2. So, were dinosaurs on the Ark?
In Genesis 6:19–20, the Bible says that two of every sort of land vertebrate (seven pairs of the ‘clean’ animals) were brought by God to the Ark. Therefore, dinosaurs (land vertebrates) were represented on the Ark.
3. How did those huge dinosaurs fit on the Ark?
Although there are about 668 names of dinosaurs, there are perhaps only 55 different ‘kinds’ of dinosaurs. Furthermore, not all dinosaurs were huge like the Brachiosaurus, and even those dinosaurs on the Ark were probably ‘teenagers’ or young adults. Indeed, dinosaurs were recently discovered to go through a growth spurt, so God could have brought dinosaurs of the right age to start this spurt as soon as they disembarked—see Dinosaur growth rates: Problem or solution for creationists?
Creationist researcher John Woodmorappe has calculated that Noah had on board with him representatives from about 8,000 animal genera (including some now-extinct animals), or around 16,000 individual animals. When you realize that horses, zebras, and donkeys are probably descended from the horse-like ‘kind’, Noah did not have to carry two sets of each such animal. Also, dogs, wolves, and coyotes are probably from a single canine ‘kind’, so hundreds of different dogs were not needed.
According to Genesis 6:15, the Ark measured 300 x 50 x 30 cubits, which is about 460 x 75 x 44 feet, with a volume of about 1.52 million cubic feet. Researchers have shown that this is the equivalent volume of 522 standard railroad stock cars (US), each of which can hold 240 sheep. By the way, only 11% of all land animals are larger than a sheep.
Without getting into all the math, the 16,000-plus animals would have occupied much less than half the space in the Ark (even allowing them some moving-around space).
The Bible is reliable in all areas, including its account of the Ark (and the worldwide catastrophic Flood). A Christian doesn’t have to have a blind faith to believe that there really was an Ark. What the Bible says about the Ark can even be measured and tested today.
For answers to other objections about the Biblical account of Noah’s Flood and the Ark (e.g., Where did all the water come from?, How did Noah collect and then care for the animals?, etc.), see the books featured below. The Creation Answers Book—Chapters 12 and 13, in particular, cover these particular ‘problems’ related to Noah’s Flood, and Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study covers these and more in detail.