Did Noah’s ark have room for a million species? (What if it is 8.7 million?)


Nearly two years after this post was written, NZ Herald (New Zealand’s most important daily) ran a story called Enough life to sink the ark with the opening paragraph:

Noah’s Ark could never have contained them: there are probably about 8.7 million species of living things, the vast majority of them undiscovered, according to what is believed to be the most authoritative estimate carried out of the scale of life on Earth.

I suspect that the mention of the ark is just the journalist’s happy jibe against the Biblical record and not a well-researched comment. I pray that this old blog post, in spite of the new species total, continues to help people understand that the ark is completely plausible, because most of these species did not need to be on the ark according to the Biblical account.

Now to the old post


Currently there are 1 million named species and many more not identified, they say…. Could Noah’s Ark have carried a specimen for all these? What became of the dinosuars; did they die in the flood or before that?  (Hannah’s second question)

There is only one true account of what really happened, and so it is important to read it carefully.

Genesis 6:17-21
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 them20 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.” alive with you; they shall be male and female.

Genesis 7:1-16
1 Then the LORD said to Noah . . . 2 You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; 3 also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth . . .
7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, 9 two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark— 14 they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. 16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.

Size of the ark
Noah’s ark was a lot bigger than we often imagine it to have been. It hasn’t helped to see pictures like the one I’ve used with this post, with the animals visible from the outside and the giraffes’ heads in the clouds.

The dimensions for the ark given in the Biblical account are:

300 cubits  x  50 cubits  x  30 cubits

A cubit being the length of a man’s arm from his elbow to his finger tips, there were larger cubits and shorter ones. Taking the smaller 45-centimeter cubit for conversion to metric measurement, one gets the following:

135 meters  x  22.5 meters  x  13.5 meters

Remember, the ark had three stories; so the total deck area was 9112.5 square meters, which we are told is approximately the area of 36 lawn tennis courts.

Many kinds of animals not taken into the ark
There was no need for Noah to take with him any of the living things living in the waters: fishes, marine chordates and echinoderms, mollusks, coelenterates, sponges, and protozoans. So you have 200,000 species less to worry about.

There was no need too to worry about amphibians or mammals like whales and seals, or reptiles like sea turtles and alligators.

Ah, and there was no need for Noah to worry about a whole host of yummy arthropods like shrimps, crabs, and prawns. Many of the insects could have survived outside the boat too. This makes it another 850,000 less to worry about.

As for bacteria and viruses and the like, they could have taken care of themselves too.

Taking only the “kinds”

An important point to note is that Noah did not take with him a pair of every species but a pair of every kind. It is important to differentiate between these two terms. Kinds would be Dog-wolf-etc., Donkey-mule-horse-zebra-etc., Lion-tiger-cat-cheeta-etc., as against species like Dog, Wolf, Donkey, Horse, Lion, Tiger, and so on.  (God created the kinds, and the species “evolved” from these kinds very quickly, not over millions of years.)

What about dinosaurs?
My impression from what I’ve been reading is that the dinosaurs made it to the ark. Noah did not have to take a couple of full grown Sauropods into the ark. Considering that dinosaurs hatch out of eggs that are all less than a foot long, God could have quite easily sent to Noah reasonably-sized dinosaurs, one pair for every kind, to go on the ark trip. No problem.

Like with all other life on earth, all of the other dinosaurs living at the time of Noah were killed in the flood. This is why we have many proofs of dinosaurs dying suddenly and in flood situations.

Interesting links you could learn more from
How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?
Is Noah’s ark a myth?
Were dinosaurs on Noah’s ark?
How big was Noah’s ark?


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