Courtesy of Arnold Mendez, Sr.
How many animals did Noah's Ark carry? Scoffers of the Genesis flood story often show the ark as a small vessel, complete with the giraffe's head sticking out the front and the elephant's tail sticking out the back, sinking under the weight of an overloaded cargo of millions of animals. Is this, however, a true picture of what God required Noah to do?
Could someone have built a ship, more than 4,000 years ago, that would have been big enough for ALL the animals that were needed to be saved? Could only eight people have taken care of all of them? By clearing up a few misconceptions regarding the flood and Noah's Ark we will be able to find the answers to these questions.
Was Noah's ark required to carry representatives of ALL the animals on the planet? Though it is often assumed, the Bible does NOT state that God required such a task, as many creatures could survive the flood outside of the ark. For example, all the creatures currently living in or could live in water (e.g. many types of snakes, alligators, etc.) could survive without the need of assistance and therefore did not need to be saved in the ship. Insects, worms, and other creeping animals could survive as well in the water and therefore did not need a boat to insure their survival when the waters rose.
Animals allowed on the ark had to fulfill three requirements before Noah included them on the ship. They had to be air breathing, terrestrial (land-based) and had to be capable of interbreeding (see Genesis 6:17, 19 - 20, 7:22).
How many animals did the ship save from the flood? There are several different estimates for the number saved from the floodwaters. The book "The Genesis Flood" estimated that approximately 35,000 creatures were on board the ship. In another book, "Noah's Ark - A Feasibility Study" by John Woodmorappe, it states that only about 2,000 would need saving.
Was Noah's ship big enough for the task? If we assume the Biblical cubit used for measurement is conservatively 18 inches (45.7 centimeters), the ark would have been 450 feet (137.2 meters) long, 75 feet (22.9 meters) wide and 45 feet (13.7 meters) high. The total volume of the ship, given such dimensions, would be 1,518,000 cubic feet (42,985 cubic meters). Its floor space, divided over three decks, would total over 101,000 square feet (9,383 square meters) - more than 21 standard college basketball courts.
For the sake of argument, let us use a conservative value of 40,000 animals that needed saving. Many biologists state that the average size of most vertebrates is the size of a sheep. The living space each sheep would need is 11.12 cubic feet. When we multiply 40,000 by 11.12 cubic feet, we arrive at 445,000 cubic feet total or only about 30% of capacity taken up! The ark could EASILY carry what God wanted to be saved and STILL have lots of room to spare!
Lastly, could only eight people have fed ALL the animals? The answer is yes! Noah's ark undoubtedly made use of self-cleaning, self-feeding, and self-watering technologies. An eight person crew could have easily kept the occupants fed and STILL be able to rest on the Sabbath day.