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Noah’s Ark – How many creatures?

Just how many creatures were there? And what kind of weight did they collectively have?

See what you think about this estimate.

There are 1.8 million species on Earth (that we know of) so the ark would need to hold nearly 4 million animals. Gosh! And how much would all of these animals weigh?

Suppose we say that a sheep is a typical animal – not too big and not too small. A sheep weighs 50kg. So if this is the average weight of each animal on board, the total weight of all of those animals would be 200 million kg.

How much is that?

Well, to give you an idea, we’re talking about a boat that can carry 20,000 double-decker buses on board.

And with this in mind, it’s not surprising that many experts say, “It’s impossible!” Added to this, if the animals really did come from all over the world then we have polar bears (which need icy conditions) living not far from iguanas (which need heat). It would have been tough to provide them all with the right habitats.

But this isn’t the end of the argument.

Everyone agrees you can’t put 4 million land animals into a boat, but what if the number was smaller? Suppose a few thousand animals came on board (which is still a lot) and suppose the big animals came on as youngsters to keep the average weight down. In that case, maybe there was an ark and it did carry a lot of animals to safety.

There are still some problems to solve, like how did Noah stop the animals from eating each other and how did he provide them all with food. But one idea is that they all slept once on board which would solve both these issues.

What do you think? On the next page we ask “What would you do to check the story out further?

© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)