Doctrinal · Old Testament · Questions

Questions I’ve been Asked – Animals & the Ark – Part 2

Question GIFA while back a brudder asked me about the ark and all the animals that Noah had to “fit” in the ark.

Carl – There is no way in poop that all those animals could fit in the ark – it is foolishness.

Like I said in the last post, this post will deal with the size of the ark needed for the animals needed passage through the flood. But, alas – it isn’t so straightforward of a problems as I first suspected. Some assumptions need to be made!

Genesis 6

14 “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.

15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.

17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark–you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”

22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

Second problem – How do we estimate the required space needed?

This problem requires some conservative assumptions.  Many scientists claim that the average size of an animal is somewhere between a rat and a sheep.  Lets take the sheep as the conservative estimate.

How much room does a sheep take?

A common method of transporting sheep is by rail.  To transport sheep via rail, it is common to fit 120 sheep within a level of a standard rail car.  A rail car is generally 60′ by 10′, which gives us 600 square feet.

600 square feet/120 sheep = 5 square feet /sheep

Therefore, each sheep takes up, on average, 5 square feet.  We will use this number later!

Remember that Noah built this box with three levels, and a roof.  Seeing that the box (ark) was 45 ft high, each deck had a 15’ ceiling.  Although not applicable for every animal, this space surely allowed for optional shelving.

Therefore the space available for an “average” animal would calculate out to-

5′ x 5′ x 5′ = 25 cubic feet (assuming 5′ vertical allowance for “head room”)

Third problem – How many animals actually boarded the ark?

First off, how many species of animals do we have on earth presently?  Famous taxonomers estimate this quantity at 1,000,000.

The following number of species were not required to be “rescued” since the flood would not completely exterminate their existence. (Note that every living thing in Genesis 6 is defined as “all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die”. Could this imply that aquatic species were not to be considered?)

  • Fish –  21,000 species
  • Echinoderms (star fish, sea urchins, etc) – 600 species
  • Mollusks (mussels, clams, oysters, etc) – 107,000 species
  • Coelenterates (corals, sea anemones, etc) – 10,000 species
  • Sponges,  – 5,000 species
  • Protozoans, – 30,000 species
  • Arthropods (lobster, crabs etc) – 838,000 species
  • Worms – 35,000 species
  • Insects – ????????
  • Amphibians
  • Some mammals (whales, dolphins, etc)

With that said, some experts have defined the number of species that required “rescuing” to as little as 2,000.  Others have been more conservative and stated that 35,000 animals were led to the ark (including the 7 pairs of “clean” animals required by God to be present on the ark!)

Some have expanded the number to 50,000 animals to satisfy the most demanding skeptic.  I hope I have a sceptic reading – I am gonna take that number just to satisfy your skepticism!  So lets go with that number!

But lets go with that number in our next post.  Will I see you there?  (I’m asking that one sceptic out there – Hope you will come visit again.)

Hey as I was proofreading, I found a tiny mathematical mistake – Nothing that makes my general argument invalid, but I’m gonna leave the “mistake” in the post for any and all to find – even if you are not my sceptic!


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion