What does the Bible say about dinosaurs?
How did dinosaurs become extinct? What can we learn from them?
These are three of several questions that we will be answering in this article today.
What is a dinosaur?
Dinosaurs were a diverse group of reptiles, some avian, while others walked on land or were water-dwellers. Some dinosaurs were plant eaters, while others were carnivores. All dinosaurs are believed to have been egg-laying. Although some dinosaurs were gigantic creatures, many were about the size of a chicken or smaller.
Did dinosaurs really exist?
Definitely! Thousands of partial fossilized skeletons have been found on every continent, even a few remains still containing soft tissue. Dinosaur eggs have been found, and CT scans show the developing embryo inside. A few nearly complete skeletons have been unearthed with about 90% of bone mass.
When were there dinosaurs on earth?
Most scientists say that dinosaurs evolved into existence over 225 million years ago, in the Triassic Period, and continued through the Jurassic and Crustaceous Periods until they became extinct about 65 million years ago. They don’t explain how soft tissue from dinosaur bones could have been preserved that long. According to the Bible, the Earth is around 6000 years old. Knowing this, we can conclude that dinosaurs were created around 6000 years ago.
Where did dinosaurs come from?
The answer of modern science is that plant-eating dinosaurs evolved from a group of reptiles known as archosaurs during the Triassic Period.
However, in Genesis 1:20-25 we read that God created birds and water animals on the fifth day of creation, and the land-dwelling animals on the sixth. God gave both humans and animals the green, seed-bearing plants for their food (Genesis 1:29-30). Early humans and animals were all vegetarian. Humans had nothing to fear from dinosaurs (except maybe getting stepped on).
Did dinosaurs and humans coexist?
Yes! Modern scientists have now classified birds as surviving dinosaurs! They say a massive extinction event occurred 65 million years ago that killed off all the dinosaurs except the flying ones, which evolved into birds as we know them today.
From a Biblical perspective, we know that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. All animals were created on the fifth and sixth day of creation.
Were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?
In Genesis 6:20 we read, “Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.” If dinosaurs were alive at the time of Noah, we can be assured that they were on the ark.
Could the dinosaurs have gone extinct before the flood? We can calculate from the genealogy from Adam to Noah in Genesis 5, that the earth was approximately 1656 years old at the time of the flood. That’s not a lot of time for mass extinction to take place. The Bible mentions nothing about any cataclysmic events in this period, other than the Fall, when a curse on the land made farming more difficult and caused brambles and thorns to grow.
In recent centuries, hundreds of animal species have been driven to extinction, mainly through over-hunting and loss of habitat. Our world experienced a huge population increase (from 1.6 billion to 6 billion between 1900 and 2000), leading to the development of areas that were once vast wildernesses. However, only certain species became extinct – not entire families of animals. For instance, the passenger pigeon is extinct, but not all birds, and not even all pigeons.
How did dinosaurs fit on the ark?
Could the ark accommodate all the animals and enough food? The ark’s measurements were about 510 x 85 x 51 feet – about 2.21 million cubic feet. To put that into perspective, a football field is 100 yards (or 300 feet) long. The ark was about one and two/thirds the length of a football field and higher than a four-story building.
The ark likely didn’t contain millions of species, but rather genera. For example, animals in the canine genus (wolves, coyotes, jackals, and dogs) are closely related, and they can interbreed. Only one prototype canine species was needed from which other species developed over time.
Let’s talk about the size of individual animals. The largest dinosaurs were the sauropods. The longest sauropod was about 112 feet long. A boat 510 feet long could have accommodated them, even at full adult size. But it’s more likely that dinosaurs on the ark were much smaller juveniles.
One evidence that dinosaurs survived the flood is the preponderance of literature and artwork depicting dragons in ancient cultures around the world. Clearly, dragons were believed to be real and to have co-existed with humans. Could these have been dinosaurs? Let’s consider post-flood descriptions of two animals in the Bible that were likely dinosaurs (and one that may have been a dragon).
What is Behemoth in the Bible?
God described Behemoth in Job 40:15-24, telling Job to look at Behemoth. Either the animal was right there for Job to see, or Job was familiar with it. This animal had bones like tubes of iron and a tail like a cedar tree. He was too large to be captured and had no fear of the flooding Jordan river. He was a gentle giant, feeding on vegetation in the hills while animals frolicked around him, and resting in the marsh area. He was considered “first” or “chief” in the works of God.
Many commentators suppose Behemoth was a hippopotamus or an elephant, but tails of these animals hardly conjure thoughts of a cedar tree. God’s description sounds like a sauropod, the largest of dinosaurs (“chief in the works of God”). These gigantic creatures apparently preferred wet habitats, as their footprints and fossils are often found in riverbeds, lagoons, and intermingled with fossils of marine organisms.
Sauropods walked on all four legs, but some are believed to be able to rear up on their hind legs. One sauropod—diplodocus—had a center of mass in the hip area (and God described Behemoth with extraordinarily strong hips and thighs and belly). He also had an extremely long tail, which he may have been able to snap like a whip.
Job 40:15 “Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox.”
What is Leviathan in the Bible?
God devoted an entire chapter (Job 41) to describing a water-dwelling creature called Leviathan. Like Behemoth, he’s unable to be captured, but Leviathan is no gentle giant. His hide was impenetrable to spears and harpoons because of layers of scales. He had fearsome teeth. Anyone who laid a hand on him would remember the battle and never repeat it!
God described dragon-like characteristics – fire comes out of Leviathan’s mouth and smoke from his nostrils. His breath sets coals ablaze. When he rises up, the mighty are terrified. He could be controlled by no one but God.
In Psalm 74:13-14, we read that God broke the heads of the sea monsters, crushed the heads of Leviathan, and gave him as food to the creatures of the wilderness. Psalm 104 speaks of Leviathan frolicking in the sea.
Leviathan is once again mentioned in Isaiah 27:1, perhaps representative of the nations that were oppressing and enslaving Israel: “In that day, the Lord will punish with His sword – His great and powerful sword – Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; He will slay the monster of the sea.”
What was Leviathan? Commentators often surmise a crocodile—but they can be hunted and killed by man – they’re not invincible. The word leviathan in the Hebrew means dragon or serpent or sea monster. It’s similar to the Hebrew word for wreathe, carrying the idea of something twisted or coiled. Could Leviathan have been a dinosaur? If so, which one?
Kronosaurus was a sea-faring dinosaur that looked like an enormous crocodile with flippers instead of feet. They grew to about 36 feet and certainly had fearsome teeth – the largest teeth up to 12 inches, with four or five pairs of premaxillary teeth. Fossilized stomach contents showed they ate turtles and other dinosaurs, so they would have had a fearsome reputation.
Another candidate is Elasmosaurus, also about 36 feet long, with a long neck measuring about 23 feet! The body of Elasmosaurus was streamlined with paddle like feet and a short tail. Some people have noticed a strong similarity to descriptions of the Loch Ness Monster.
Leviathan could have been a dinosaur like Kronosaurus or Elasmorsaurus, or it could have been a completely different animal. For many known dinosaurs, we only have a handful of bones, and often only one set. There certainly could be other dinosaurs out there whose fossilized skeletons have not yet been found.
Job 3:8 “Let those curse it who curse the day, who are ready to rouse up Leviathan.”
Did God create a dinosaur that could breathe fire?
The bombardier beetle can emit a hot, explosive mix of chemicals when threatened. And let’s not forget the legends of fire-breathing dragons that pervade the cultures of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Scientists have even proposed several ways that dragons, if they existed, could “breathe fire.”
God certainly isn’t limited by our limited knowledge. God spoke of Leviathan as a real creature that He created. He said this animal breathed fire. We must take God at His Word.
What killed the dinosaurs?
Extinction of dinosaurs likely occurred following the flood, when two phenomena happened that significantly impacted human and animal life.
At the time of creation, the earth was watered by a mist coming up from the ground – there was no rain (Genesis 2:5-6). We can glean from Genesis 1:6-8 that the earth was surrounded by a canopy of water. This provided protection from the sun’s radiation and produced a greenhouse effect with higher oxygen levels, lush vegetation, and consistently warmer temperature extending to the poles (explaining fossils of tropical plants in Alaska and Antarctica).
Human lifespan was centuries long up until the flood, and the same was likely true for animals. Like many reptiles today, dinosaurs were probably indeterminate growers, meaning they continued growing throughout their lives, attaining gigantic size.
Genesis 6:11 refers to the “windows” or “floodgates” of heaven opened as the flood ensued. This probably was the breaking up of the water canopy as the first rain fell on the earth. This change in atmosphere would have contributed to much shorter lifespans of humans (and other animals) following the flood. Protection from the sun’s radiation was lost, oxygen levels lowered, there were greater extremes in hot and cold seasons and regions, and large areas became subject to desertification.
Secondly, God gave humans permission to eat meat following the flood (Genesis 9:3). This was probably when some animals developed into carnivores or omnivores. The new meat eaters (humans and animals) had shorter lifespans due to the carcinogens from both the sun and meat, as well as higher cholesterol and other issues associated with eating meat.
After the flood, colder weather limited where dinosaurs could live. The slow-moving plant-eating dinosaurs would have a much more limited food supply and would have been prey for the new carnivores. Dinosaurs probably continued in small numbers after the flood until they eventually died out.
What can we learn from dinosaurs?
Why was God describing Behemoth and Leviathan in Job 40 and 41? Job had been questioning why God allowed him to endure such hardships. Job was pointing out his righteousness and was essentially accusing God of unrighteous judgment.
God answered, “Would you discredit My justice? Would you condemn Me to justify yourself?” (Job 40:8) God challenged Job to do the things God did. If Job were able to, God said, “Then I Myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.” God goes on to describe two of His creations – Behemoth and Leviathan – mighty creatures that only God could subdue.
To God’s challenge, Job could only say, “I repent.” (Job 42:6) Job was indeed a righteous and godly man – but even he did not measure up. “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) Job’s own right hand could not save him. And neither can ours.
Fortunately, “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Roman 5:6) Jesus, who created Behemoth and Leviathan, stripped Himself of His royalty and privilege and descended to earth to be like us, and to make a way for us.
A lesson we can learn from the dinosaurs is humility. They ruled the earth once, and then they died out. We will all die and face our Maker. Are you ready?
Ken Ham – “Evolutionary Darwinists need to understand we are taking the dinosaurs back. This is a battle cry to recognize the science in the revealed truth of God.”