Could Noah Hold All Those Animals On the Ark?

Bible Study //

As a speaker for Answers in Genesis, I get this question a lot and I tend to respond with two questions of my own:


  1. How big was the ark?
  2. How many animals did Noah actually take?


The answers to these two questions are the key to the answer of this common question by the skeptics. So let’s take them in turn.


  1. How big was the ark?

Based on the dimensions given in Genesis 6:15, the ark was approximately 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet tall (using the long cubit). Interestingly enough, those are the same proportions of many modern day cargo ships (It’s like God knew what He was doing J). Inside the Ark were three different levels. It had capacity equal to roughly 570 railroad stock cars. It was literally a floating warehouse with well over 100,000 square feet. But was it big enough?


  1. How many animals did Noah actually take?

The Bible states clearly that Noah only took pairs (in some cases seven) of land dwelling, air breathing animals onto the Ark (Genesis 6:19-20). No fish! Plenty of water outside the boat.


Also, it is very likely God sent young adults to the Ark (e.g., less food, less waste, less space, etc.). Perhaps most important of all, the Bible says Noah took aboard two of each kind, not two of each species (Genesis 6:19-20). In most cases the biblical kind seems roughly equal to the family level of modern-day classification. As an example, Noah did not take hundreds of different dogs onto the ark. He probably never saw a Chihuahua or Poodle in his life! He just took two of the dog kind.


So how many kinds would Noah need to account for all the variations we see today and in the fossil record? At most, about 1,500. Taking two of each and seven of some (i.e., clean animals, which was a small list in the Bible), the probable total was around 4,000 individual animals; with a max, worst case scenario being approximately 7,000 (the number we are using for the highly anticipated Ark Encounter). But for the sake of argument, lets more than double the worst case scenario. Could Noah have fit 16,000 animals onto his Ark? A researcher did that calculation, and all those animals would take up about 47% of the Arks total capacity.[1] Plenty of room on the Ark for all the necessary animals, Noah and his family, food, and supplies.


The real question is; why did he build an Ark with so much left over space?



[1] See John Woodmorappe, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, Institute for Creation Research, 1996.





About the Author

Bryan Osborne is passionate about reaching the lost with the gospel! As an expert in the use of exciting, apologetics-based evangelism and chronological Bible teaching, this former athlete connects with audiences through real-life stories and facts that confirm the truth of the Bible. After graduating from Bryan College with a bachelor of arts in biblical studies and minors in Greek and Christian education, Bryan earned his master’s degree in education from Lee University. For 13 years he boldly and enthusiastically taught Bible history in a public school system in Tennessee, and for 20 years he has helped youth and young adults in the local church to know and defend their faith. Bryan’s giftedness as a communicator and his passion for revealing the truth of God’s Word are obvious and contagious! He now speaks at conferences and in churches for Answers in Genesis and is developing a blog designed to help parents and ministry leaders solve the growing epidemic of biblical illiteracy through the use of specially designed resources such as AiG’s Answers Bible Curriculum. You will love his practical, cutting-edge talks that reveal the importance of apologetics in evangelizing the lost and in equipping today’s youth and families in the body of Christ! Bryan reports that he and his wife Marla have been blissfully married since 1998 and are enjoying the early years of child-rearing!