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Bible Q

Were dinosaurs on the ark?

No. Dinosaurs are never mentioned in the Bible, and there is overwhelming scientific evidence that dinosaurs died out long before human beings were created. So dinosaurs could not have been on the ark.

20 Replies to “Were dinosaurs on the ark?”

  1. I think Dinosaurs were animals just like any other, and that God created them along with all other animals during his acts of creation.

    Of the 8,000 genera required to fill Noahs ark in order to populate the world with animals as we know, only 55 needed to be dinosaurs. These have now, like thousands of other species, become extinct.

    Job 40 describes a beast (majestic plural would imply a colossal beast) with a tail “like a cedar”. Of all the animals that we know existed from fossil evidence and observation, we cannot sensibly apply this description to anything other than a sauropod dinosaur.

    Many very old history books describe detailed encounters with dragons, including some that emphasize the fact that these creatures are not mythical or magical, but merely a type of animal.

    Finally, if we believe that death was a result of Adams sin, nothing could have “died out” before human beings were created.

  2. Matt, while I agree that dinosaurs were animals like any other, it is important to note that there is not a lot of scientific or biblical support for the rest of your comments.

    You say that “if … death was a result of Adam’s sin, nothing could have died out before human beings were created.” I assume you are alluding to Romans, especially ch 5. There are many people who believe that Rom 5 does not have that meaning.

  3. David,
    Matt’s comments are accurate. There is plenty of scientific and biblical evidence that support his thoughts. And of course dinosaurs are not mentioned by that name in the Bible, the word is less than 100 years old. Check out some great info from Answers in Genesis.

  4. David, there is indeed a lot of scientific and biblical support for my comments. I suggest you do a bit of research on the subject. has a great deal of “scientific” and “biblical” information on this topic, which I won’t repeat here.

    Regarding “death”, my understanding is that Genesis 3v19 frames it as a consequence of sin. If this is the case, how can it have occurred thousands or millions of years before Adam sinned?

    The logical conclusion is that God created Dinosaurs along with all other animals during the creation week about six thousand years ago, and they later died out, either during the flood or becoming extinct later along with thousands of other species.

  5. Matt and Chris,
    Another perspective understands the comments in 2Pet 3:5-7 (read vv 2-8 for context) to refer not to the pre-Noahic world, but to the pre-Genesis world. The pre-Genesis world, which existed before the accounts written in our Bible, is what Peter calls “the world that then was” and he says it was overflowed with water and perished. Thus, when we begin reading Gen 1 we see the world formless and empty and covered in water, upon which God’s spirit moved.

    This corroborates scientific evidence that dates a massive and long-lasting global flood to well over 6000 years ago. It also causes no conflict with either a ‘local’ or ‘global’ perspective on the later Noahic flood.

    Finally, remember that human mortality came about as a result of sin, and the principle of corruption in the bodies of Adam & Eve and their descendents. Nothing in the Bible directly and unequivocally states that ALL mortality (including plants and animals) entered the world in Genesis. Rom 5 indicates “death by sin” meaning ‘death as a consequence of sin’ which is only true of humankind. The Genesis account gives no indication of whether animals were mortal or immortal when created — we would be presumptuous to imply this on our own.

    The fact that Adam and Eve were told to “re-plenish” the earth, meaning to RE-populate it, would also corroborate the view of a pre-Genesis world that was completely wiped out by a global flood lasting millennia.

    Dinosaurs could certainly have belonged to that pre-Genesis world. The fact that Job mentions a creature we no longer see does not ‘de facto’ prove it HAD to be a sauropod… it could merely be something else that has since gone extinct and left no fossil record, or yet undiscovered fossil record. The fact remains that the Bible does not clearly speak of dinosaurs — not only by that name, which is certainly new in human language — but also by clear enough description to undisputably identify them as such. Find me a passage that clearly describes in thorough detail a giant lizard with bird-like bone structure, and I’ll re-assess my position with open mind.

  6. A couple more thoughts on this discussion…

    1.) Regarding the “tail like a cedar” comment, the literal translation of this from the Hebrew would be much closer to this reading: “he lets hang his tail like a cedar.” Young’s Literal Translation puts it this way: “He doth bend his tail as a cedar.” NIV puts it as: “His tail sways like a cedar.” Most other English translations use the word “move” i.e. “he moves his tail like a cedar.” My point is, the verse does not explicitly say ‘his tail is as big as a cedar’ but rather that it can be likened to a cedar in the way it hangs or bends or sways or moves.

    2.) Animals die, but no animals are spoken of in scripture as even being accountable to God’s law, let alone violating it (i.e. “sin”), therefore the sin=death equation must have particular reference to the human condition. This would particularly fit with the fact that humans alone are offered redemption and eternal life.

    3.) The English word “dragon” did not always have a mythical connotation to it as it does now. Other English words that have, over centuries, developed a false stereotype associated with fable? Pirate, Cowboy, Unicorn (this one’s in the Bible too!), and I’m sure many others. If ancient writings mention “dragons” as being merely another type of animal, there is still no proof that “dragons” meant ‘large reptilian creatures’ at that time.

    4.) The size and the dimensions of the ark, though stupendously huge, would still not admit of 55×2 dinosaurs (if using ‘genera’ as the guideline for ‘kind’). I understand that young of the species may have been substituted but these animals were held back by God from procreating, meaning they were sexually mature. Therefore, though they may not have been full-grown, they would still be big — very big. Bigger than most scientifically-sound models of the ark allow for.

  7. Riz,
    Re 1), why mention a cedar, which is a specifically large and tall tree? If we are talking about a tail such as an elephant or hippo (as has been suggested by some) why not use something appropriately sized? Also, why not use something else that actually HANGS like a tail, if we are more concerned with the movement than the physical attributes? Even if the prime focus were the movement, a tail that moves like a cedar will necessarily be very large as well.
    I think to focus on “move” “hang” or sway” is spurious, as the obvious importance is the size and length and physical attributes of a cedar. No other creature has a tail that is like a cedar. Rather than try to “reinterpret” or “rewrite” scripture to fit our beliefs, I think we should take scripture as written, and find something that corresponds. In this case, a dinosaur.

    Also regarding “replenish” I’m surprised you use this argument, since you look at various translations regarding the “tail like a cedar”. Most translations of Genesis 1v28 read “fill the earth”. NET, NIV, NASB, NLT, Message, BBE, NRSV, NKJV all say “fill the earth”. The Hebrew word clearly means “fill”. And In most other verses in the KJV, the same word is translated fill.

    In answer to 2) I agree that sin=death has particular reference to the human condition. However I also believe that all creation being “very good” (not just humans) before the fall indicates that death in all creation was a result of sin. The serpent is cursed “above” all cattle and wild animals, implying that they were all cursed at this time. And Genesis 1 indicates that the animals were eating vegetation, not each other before the events of Adams sin.
    Romans 8 certainly seems to imply that the whole of creation is subject to the bondage of death because of Adams sin. Death is described as “the last enemy” that Christ will conquer in Corinthians, and if this only applies to humans, then animals will still be dying in God’s future perfect kingdom. I think death did not exist before Adam sinned, and death will only be done away with at the return of Christ.

    Regarding 3) the ancient writings mention of the word “dragon” isn’t proof that they were large reptillian creatures. However the description they give of large reptillian creatures certainly is! They are described as large serpents (i.e. reptiles) 14 metres long by St John of Damascus, a monk, liturgical composer and renowned theologian. He was a well educated scholar of the time, and his report and description should be reliable.
    His description reads ‘This dragon is a type of beast, like the rest of the animals, for it has a goat-like beard, and a horn at the back of its head. Its eyes are large and gold-coloured. These dragons can be either big or small. All serpent kinds are poisonous, except dragons, for they do not emit poison.’ Dragons, he wrote, were absolutely real animals, though sometimes big and terrifying, which at that time were only rarely seen by humans.
    Also Cassius Dio (AD155-236) a noted Roman historian wrote that during the battle against Carthage the Roman troops slew a “dragon” and sent the hide back to the Roman senate. It was measured at 120 feet long.
    The mythology of many cultures describes dragons, and these descriptions probably arose from accounts of actual creatures that were rarely seen.

    Regarding 4) most dinosaurs were not large (the average size about that of a small sheep), and all of them started out small. Studies of dinosaur bones have shown that the sauropods up until the age of about 5 weighed less than 1 tonne, then grew rapidly at about 5 tonnes per year after that, until the age of 12-13, then levelled off. Tyrannosaurids show the same sigmoidal pattern, weighing less than half a tonne at age 10, then growing rapidly. In short, all 16,000-plus animals (110 of them dinosaurs) would have probably occupied less than half the space inside the ark.

  8. Matt
    Thanks for taking the time to reply in such depth!
    I’d like to address point 1 for the time being.

    First, I’d like to clarify that when I first heard the suggestion that dinosaurs were alive in Bible times, I was actually quite excited about the prospect and eagerly researched information behind this claim. What you seem to imply are preconceived notions, were developed by the process of investigating this. I stand up strongly for what I say because I am not convinced of the certainty of the ‘biblical dinosaur’ theory, whereas I am convinced of the ‘pre-Adamic creation’ I mentioned.

    Ultimately, the discussion about whether Job’s record actually describes dinosaurs, proves nothing in relation to the ark. If in fact the record does allude to dinosaurs – however vaguely – there is no reason to believe God could not mention something extinct. In fact, the book of Job (arguably the Bible’s oldest book) reveals many other truths only recently “discovered” by modern science (!) which were for centuries hidden. The same could be true of dinosaurs, without proving that reference to them in the book of Job meant they were CURRENT WITH him.

    Other thoughts:

    a) If we are being careful not to interpret scriptures to fit our beliefs, which I agree is important to guard against, I would suggest extreme caution in claiming that any part of this verse has “obvious importance” to the exclusion of another part. The verse specifically mentions the aspect of moving/hanging/swaying. The verse does not specifically mention anything about height or grandeur of the cedar. If physical attributes are so obviously intended, why are none explicitly describeded? In other cases, where it IS obvious that cedars are references for the sake of their height (e.g. Amos 2:9 or 2 Ki 19:23) that attribute is explicitly mentioned. Why not here?

    b) You mentioned no “other” creature has a tail like a cedar. I agree, but I take that one step further, and say that NO creature has a tail with the same physical attributes as a cedar, literally speaking. I’ve looked at many images of the cedrus libani (the cedar of the Bible) and find none that resemble the tail of any dinosaur. No dinosaures had branched tails, and those that had firm skin like bark did not have long and large tails. Sauropods did not have tails with anything protruding from them that would look like cones or foliage, nor did Tyranosaurs or anything outside of stegosaurs as far as I can tell. And no stegosaur’s tail looks to me like it exhibits the physical attributes of a cedar. No dinosaur’s tail grew upright (and therefore not “tall” in the truest sence), and no tail was as strong as a cedar if we consider flexibility, malleability, etc. Evidently, the verse isn’t making reference to literal aspects… otherwise, it would apply to no creature. Tails and trees look different.

    c) In looking at images of Lebanon cedars, I’ve noticed the habit of the foliage to fan out at the end of a bare branch. Although I admit a bit of bias, I believe this could resemble the hair-clad tails of a hippo. Here are two images which hopefully illustrate the point:
    Look at any of the branches of the first tree, and you will notice the similarity between them and the tail in the second image. Another hippo tail:
    A quick Google search of “elephant tail” will reveal similar results:

    d) Just as not all dinosaurs were large, even so not all cedars are large or tall. A quick look at the few that remain in Lebanon now will illustrate that. Nothing in the verse indicates a well-matured cedar… the verse could very well refer to an immature cedar with equal specificity.

    e) As with everything else the best course is obviously to consult the Bible to allow it to interpret itself. If you feel the attributes of a cedar – as opposed to other trees – play a part in this, we should look to the attributes God leaves on record for us. In the Bible, references to cedars treat of their strength (Psa 29:4-5). Biblical usage also includes purification properties in the Law of Moses (Lev 14:4; Num 19:6). In one case, the cedar was used as a metaphor for the righteous (Psa 92:12) and in another case as a metaphor for pride (Isa 2:13). This was a cursory glance, but enough to show that cedars are known for more than just being tall or large in God’s eyes. I’d like to better understand why you feel the “tall and large” argument deserves so much attention over other attributes?

  9. It is difficult to see how dinosaurs could have been in the ark for some very good reasons.

    1) Dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago. The ark cannot have been that long ago.

    2) If you assume, against overwhelming evidence, that dinosaurs were contemporary with humans, then it would be extremely difficult to fit them into the ark. That is unless you assume, against overwhelming evidence, that after the flood there was a new creation almost from scratch. That is to say, it would be necessary to assume that the “kinds” were of such a general nature that they were families at least, or perhaps even orders! This is because the number of genera let alone species that have ever existed definetly not fit in the ark. I doubt that even families could do so.

  10. I did some research into the passage in Job that refers to a “beheamouth” and discovered several reputable sources that say this refers to a hippotomous which to me makes far more sense than a dinosaur.

    The other evidence the Earth is much older than 6000 years is the light from the stars travels at a rate of speed God created when He created the universe. When we look at the stars we see light from those stars that travelled millions of years to get here. Now I know some Christians who say anything is possible therefore this fact proves nothing. My question is if He provided us the ability to see the light from stars, and determine how long it took to get here, why would he want to fool us into thinking the light came from so far away over such a long period of time if He created the universe 6000 years ago? This doesn’t make sense to me.

    I personally have faith He will reveal the truth to us when we need to know, and not before. The Lord our God has his own timetable and we should trust Him.

    Arguing/discussing about such trivial things like is or isn’t the Earth 6000 years old just isn’t that important, and is in fact not serving our great commission to the unsaved who point to this and heap ridicule on us.

  11. Russell to Russ [we are a rare but precious breed 🙂 ]

    Yes! I agree. However I also understand that the strange animals in Job may also have allegorical meanings. John Launchbury has done some useful work on this subject. Job is a book of poetry. It contains very colourful language. The idea that it refers to dinosaurs is ludicrous. Your point about heaping ridicule on ourselves is spot on. No-one with even a basic knowledge of geology will take us seriously if we sprout that kind of nonsense.

  12. Message to Russ
    You make some very interesting points. However, since God made Adam in adult form with an apparent age and the mature trees would seem to have an apparent age, then I think it is reasonable to assume that the stars and the lightfrom them and the rest of creation would have an apparent age.

  13. So let’s understand what you are saying, Jim. In 1986 when a large supernova was observed which logic tells astronomers was 30 million years after the event, you are supposing that it was formed by God no more than 6,000 years ago with an apparent age of 30 million years. This is quite a bizarre idea. How you heard of “thursdayism”? It is the notion that the entire universe was created last Thursday morning at 9am with everything fully formed, including our false memories. How different is the doctrine of “apparent age” from “thursdayism”?

    Your argument is based on two premises:

    1. Trees were created with an apparent age. The scientific evidence contradicts this idea. Scripture does not require it. You can’t just gloss over the scientific evidence that plants are ancient. Angiosperms (a relatively recent plant group) for example became dominant, as they still are, during the Cretaceous period from about 145 million years to about 65 milion years ago. There is nothing much new in what I am saying. It has been well known since the early 19th century, when the names of the geological ages were coined. The dates were not able to be calibrated until well into the 20th century. It was only known that they were ancient. Bro John Thomas and Bro Robert Roberts for example were familiar with these ideas and included the ideas in their thinking. Interestingly we have gone backwards in our understanding. Until the crazy ideas popularised by Whitcomb and Morris in the 1960’s, most Christadelphians were comfortable with ancient trees. Admittedly they also believed in an extermination and a recreation 6,000 years ago, an idea that can no longer be sustained. However many Christadelphians have swallowed the fundamentist teaching of a young earth, and even a young universe. There are many lines of evidence that disprove this. The clearest is radiometric dating. That is because is does not just say “this rock is very old indeed”. It is actually able to say for example “this rock is 2.15 billion years + or minus 0.07 billion years”. When not just one, but thousands of such calculations give a consistent answer, then it is not something to be lightly dismissed.

    2. Humankind (viz. Adam) was created 6,000 years ago fully formed, with an apparent age. I don’t actually believe that the scripture requires this. And certainly it is against the scientific evidence. However let us make allowance for miracles. Miracles can rarely be proved by scientific evidence. For example the virgin birth of Jesus is against all experience. Actually although I have ideas on this subject, I admit that it is more difficult to include in our thinking than plants. That does not mean that it cannot be explained. It just means that it might be better to focus on one thing at a time.

  14. To Russell and comment 13.
    My argument is not based on the premises you geatly expanded upon.

    1. Adam was created as a mature man – what was his age? – Zero – what age would he appear to be 20 plus. He had an apparent age of say 20 plus.

    2. Mature trees were in the garden of Eden – certainly not zero. Some would have the maturity of 100s of years.

    3. An example of a very distant star and the time for light to travel here.

    Not so difficult if God wanted us to see it, then he could create the star with light already on the way, thus giving it an apparent age.

    You think my assertions bizarre – mm.
    Ah well let us try to be objective and open minded about things about to take place concerning Israel and the return of Jesus – I doubt either of us has got that 100% right and we must be prepared for some readjustment in our thoughts and not to be discouraged if we are wrong, but like the 7 churches of Revelations we must hang in there until the end.

  15. I agree that we need to be humble enough to change when proved wrong. It is possible to be a faithful follower of Jesus and not accept that the earth is ancient. However if we in the 21st century make such claims, especially if we attempt to tie this belief to acceptance of the Bible then we are not doing God’s cause any good. Any person educated in these subjects will immediately discount anything we might say.

    I don’t accept your first premise. I spent a lot of effort explaining how trees are much older than 6,000 years old. It is actually a difficult position to defend that Gen 1 and 2 are both literal pats of a 6-day creation. You need to do all sorts of convolutions to reconcile the two accounts. Yes, it can be done. But it certainly not the natural reading of the text. These problems however evaporate when at least one of the two chapters is interpreted not as a literal account. Actually neither chapter should be interpreted completely literally.

    The second premise I put in the too hard basket. Not that I think that it cannot be answered. I am not actually completely decided about the precise answers. There are several answers in my mind, and I don’t even know if the correct answer is knowable in 2010. In other words I am not sure which of several competing ways to understand the scripture is correct. The scientific evidence however is quite clear.

    Regarding your 3rd point, you have not explained the difference between your view and thursdayism.

  16. Thank you to all discussants for their contributions to this topic. I think there has been plenty of opportunity for a range of views to be presented, and so I am now closing the discussion. The length of discussion compared to the length of the original answer must be a record!

  17. What about dinosaurs in Job 40:15-24? Did they live with humans?

    Some advocates of a young earth point to Job 40:15-24, as a description of a dinosaur, and proof that they lived concurrently with humans.

    “Behold now, behemoth, which I made as well as you; he eats grass like an ox. Look, his strength is in his loins. And his force is in the muscles of his belly. He moves his tail like a cedar: The sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are as tubes of brass; his limbs are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: only he who made him gives him his sword. Surely the mountains bring forth food for him — where all the beasts of the field do play. He lies under the lotus-trees, in the covert of the reeds and the marsh. The lotus trees cover him with their shade; the willows of the brook surround him. Behold, if a river overflows, he does not tremble; he is confident, though a Jordan [swift river] swell even to his mouth. Shall any take him when he is on the watch, or pierce through his nose with a snare?” (Job 40:15-24).

    For this to be true dinosaurs would have to have been on the ark.

    For anyone who watched the debate between Bill Nye and the Creation museum, how can we have things like oil which is biological decay if the universe is only 6000 years old? Also, the creation guy kept mentioning observational science as being the Christian way to go for science, and not to trust theories like evoultion and the big bang as they are not observed. I don’t think this is the best Christian argument as Moses did not observe the garden of eden or noah’s ark. Moses was raised by Egyptians and never saw those things, he muist have either been educated in them from being in Egypt or must have had visions which he wrote. However, he did not observe any of what you all claim to believe. This is why i find Christian arguments ridiculous in proving their points as I Have thought more about the meaning of there religion than they do, but this is a result from just picking beliefs based on wishful thinking rather than evidence.

    • Alan, it might do you well to review the arguments made in the comments above your post, as many of them directly address the Job passage. As for your rant about Bill Nye/Ken Ham and ‘Christian’ vs. non-religious science, it has no place in this specific discussion. As for Moses not observing what he described, he was guided by God’s Spirit to write, and that Spirit does not guide modern scientists.

  18. Dinosaurs were not on the ark, because 1. they were all dead, something that is supported by science, and 2. the ark story is a story, not a factual event supported by science. It’s common sense. There are about 9 million species of animals on the planet today. This is known. Would they all fit in the ark? No. If you believe the ark story to be true, then where did all of these animals come from?

  19. How did they keep the plant life alive to feed the omnivorous animals, and how much extra meat did they bring along?