Q&A: Animals of the Ark

Animals of the Ark

Question

How did all the animals fit into the Ark?

Answer

Jesus attested to the days of Noah, the ark and flood (Matt.24:37-39). In 2 Peter chapter 3 the coming judgment by fire is likened to the former judgment by water in Noah's flood. The New Testament affirms the Old, so we know the facts in Genesis are true (as all Scripture is - Ps. 119:160), but can we explain them?

Scripture reveals that Noah's ark was rather large, capable for its cargo and yet seaworthy, as compared to the boat described in a Babylonian myth, which was a 180-foot cube and about five times larger than Noah's ark in volume and would not have been able to float. (Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible).

The ark was seaworthy. Moses used the obscure term tebah, a word that was used also for the basket that carried baby Moses (Ex. 2:3). One was a huge wooden ship and the other a small wicker basket. Both floated, both rescued life, and both were covered. By divine providence, the life of Moses was spared and so were the lives of Noah and his family. In finality, all who believe in Christ will be spared the final judgment of hell.

According to Whitcomb and Morris, in The Genesis Flood, the ark (Gen. 6:14-16) would have been approximately 437.5 feet in length, 72.92 feet in width, and 43.75 feet in height (using 17.5 inches per cubit as a rule of measure). According to Genesis 6:16, the ark had three decks. The total deck area would have been approximately 95,700 square feet. Therefore, the volume was 1,396,000 cubic feet. The gross tonnage of the ark would be approximately 13,960 tons. This is comparable to some large modern-day vessels. McDowell also points out that the carrying capacity would be equal to 522 standard railroad stock cars - each of which could carry 240 sheep. So, the ark could have accommodated at least 125,000 sheep. Considering the fact that most dry land animals are smaller than sheep, this is significant.

Whitcomb and Morris determined that there were less than 17,600 of the currently known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians that would have needed the shelter of the ark. Others such as J. Woodmorappe have done similar studies. Possibly with few exceptions, Noah wouldn't have taken the largest animals onto the Ark. These younger animals would have required less space, less food, and have less waste, etc. Calculating for two of each on the ark, there would need to be room for only 35,200 animals (2 x 17,600), plus five each of clean animals (for the sake of argument we'll allow for half the species or 8,800 x 5, being 44,000). So then, a total of 79,000 animals maximum would have been on the ark. The ark was more than capable for this payload.

Given the facts above and the observation that there were probably a small number of species originally upon the earth, the animals could easily fit unto the ark with room for food stores (Gen. 6:21) and Noah's family.

References:

J. Woodmorappe, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, Institute for Creation Research, Santee, California, 2003.

John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood, Presbyterian Reformed, 1961.

Josh McDowell and Don Douglas Stewart, Answers to Tough Questions, Originally published: San Bernardino, Calif. : Here's Life Publishers, c1980. (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1993).

Seok Won Hong, et al., Safety Investigation of Noah's Ark in a Seaway, TJ 8 (1):2636, April 1994.

Richard Pratt, General Editor. Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2003.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).