Q5: What did the Animals Eat After the Flood?
This is certainly a legitimate
question. What did the
animals eat after the flood? Many people claim that the carnivores
would eat the herbivores, thus not allowing repopulation to occur. They
also say that the world would have been so devastated that the
herbivores would have had no food to eat.
But is this argument valid? This author would wager that it isn’t.
Superficially, perhaps, but not if we examine the possibilities. The
herbivores and ecosystem shall be examined first.
What would the ecosystem have been like at the time of the departure
from the ark? There are clues given in Scripture that allow us to make
reasonable assumptions about it. In Genesis
8:4-12 the Scriptures inform us that the Ark rested upon the
moutains in the seventh month. The reader will remember that the flood
began in the second month (see Q3: What was
the Duration of the Flood?). It is then evident from the text that
at least some dry ground was beginning to appear within roughly five
months for the Ark to be resting upon the mountains of Ararat. The
Ararat mountains are hardly the highest mountains in the current world.
Some understandings must first be established before the issue of what
they ate can be addressed.
In verse five of chapter eight, it tells us that on the first day of
the tenth month they could see the tops of the mountains of Ararat
around them. This would seem to indicate that the water was beginning
to drop significantly. This is roughly two months later. Then in verse
six we are told that Noah opened the single window of the ark after
forty days and in verse seven he sent out a raven “until the waters
were dried up from off the earth.” It is likely from this that Noah
opened the window after the forty days of rain, before they set down in
the mountains of Ararat.
So the actual timeline would be that after the forty days of rain, Noah
opened the window of the ark and sent out the raven until the waters
were dried up from of the earth. This passage of time would be from the
middle of the forth month (remember, Noah entered the ark on the 17th
day of the 2nd month plus forty days of rain would make it in the
middle of the fourth month) to the 1st day of the seventh month when
the ark rested upon the mountains.
In verse eight it states that he also sent out a dove. But it returned
because it could not find a place to land because the “waters [were] on
the face of the whole earth.” This is an interesting verse, and clearly
it, like verses six and seven, is giving more specific details about
the events inside the ark during the deluge.
Again, during the same amount of time that the raven was sent out Noah
was also sending a dove out once every seven days. Note that the
timeframe in which the dove is gone is not mentioned. People tend to
assume that it was the same day, but that is not dictated scripturally
and it is highly possible that the dove flew around for several days
before returning to the ark between the seven day periods. At any rate,
within three to five weeks of Noah opening the window of the ark, the
dove returned with an olive branch (Genesis
8:11), indicating that the waters were already going down and vegatation was already beginning to grow
again. But Noah waited another seven days and sent the dove out
again and it did not return, indicating that it had found a roost. This
took place sometime between the sixth and tenth months, with the
likelihood being that it was closer to the sixth than the tenth, based
upon internal evidence.
This indicates that by the sixth month, the vegetation had already
begun to grow. The Bible states that Noah did not depart from the ark
until the second month of the next year. That gives the surrounding
world a total of eight more months of recovery without intervention by
Noah or any of the survivors, allowing the ecosystem to recover long
before animals began to eat the plants again.
For how plants could have survived the flood, see Q18: How did Plants
Survive the Flood?
Insects would have survived by burrowing into the ground, as they often
do during floods, and hitching rides on the huge floating log and
vegetation mats that would have been floating on the surface of the
water. Most of these likely would have come from the known billions
floating in the air column at altitudes of even 15,000 feet (Swenson
and Catchpool 2000).
Now that the resiliance of the creation has been established, the issue
of what the animals ate can be addressed.
What did they eat?
Noah finally allowed the departure from the ark to begin during the
second month. There are several possible solutions to the problem of
the carnivores eating the herbivores before they could repopulate.
There is nothing to suggest that Noah simply tossed the animals out of
the ark and let them have at each other haphazardly.
The ark was well stocked with provisions for both herbivores and
carnivores. Noah could very well have allowed the herbivores to depart
first, to allow them to establish populations before releasing the
There is no scriptural evidence to indicate that the animals were not
procreating during the flood, allowing the number of animals departing
from the ark to be greater. The size of the ark could easily acommodate
additional animals, with only 36% taken up by animals and only 15% of
food provisions and water was only 9.4%. Allowing the maximums of each
of these, to make it as crowded as possible, food, animals, and water
take up only 61.4% of the total ark size. The ark could have maintained
a much larger population, even with these maximum numbers, without
taking into account various methods of conserving space (for more on
the size of the ark, see Q4: How Could the
Ark Hold all Those Animals?). It is interesting to note that the
reproduction rates of elk after the devistation at Mount St. Helens was
close to the highest ever recorded (Swenson and Catchpool 2000). Given
that the whole earth was devistated after the flood, it is likely that
reproduction rates were heightened considerably.
Just as carnivores in zoos soon become tamed to being fed, it is
possible that the carnivores on the ark would have become somewhat tame
and would have only reverted to catching their own food after the
provisions on the ark ran out. Also, recognizing an easier meal without
having to chase and kill prey, the carnivores could have hung around
the immediate ark area and recieving free meals. Just like the old
adage: don’t feed wild animals or they will keep coming back.
Predator/prey ratios are an additional issue, but one that is fairly
easily resolved. Predators that must chase their prey over fairly open
ground (as the post-flood world would have been until the new trees
could grow up again) are very unsuccessful, precentage wise. For
example, success rate on elk is about 20% (Murry 2002), forcing Natural
Selection to take over, and forcing the predators to attack the weak,
slow, and crippled. So it is clear that the predator/prey ratio is not
a particularly problematic issue.
It is clear that “problems” with recovery after the flood are not
actually problems at all, when analyzed.
Previous Page - Next Page