How many Kinds of Mammals were on the Ark?

Not to be confused with a created kind, an “ark kind” is a group of animals belonging to the same created kind that were represented on Noah’s Ark during the global Flood described in Genesis 6-9. European explorers of the 16th and 17th centuries quickly found out that the world was full of more species than were known from their homeland, while hybridization research led by 18th-century biologist Carl Linneas and others indicated that many of our modern species arose from a relatively small number of ark kinds [1]. Seeing as each ark kind was represented by at least two individuals (14 in some cases), how much of our present biodiversity were represented on the Ark? In recent years, creation scientists have developed a variety of criteria and methods that have turned out to be quite useful in identifying ark kinds, such as hybridization and statistical baraminology.

In 2008, paleontologist Kurt Wise proposed that the patterns of species’ first appearance in the post-Flood fossil record could help creationists establish ark kinds. Based on the percentage of living species that have a fossil record, he determined that the fossil record was likely to preserve virtually the full spectrum of life alive at any one time in earth history. Despite this, many modern species like hippopotamus, zebras, polar bears and sperm whales do not appear until quite late in the post-Flood fossil record [2]. Dr. Wise suggests that this is because these species were not alive at the time of the Flood, but instead are species that arose from a much more inclusive ark kind. “In taxa with a sufficiently complete fossil record, then, the lowest taxonomic level with a fossil record reaching back to Flood sediments for a particular set of organisms identifies the ark kind and its taxonomic level.” This was the reasoning behind Dr. Wise’s proposal: the Post-Flood Continuity Criterion.

Dr. Wise applied this criterion to mammals and determined that only 100-300 mammal kinds would have been present on the Ark. Ironically, many of the species commonly portrayed as Ark passengers would not exist at the time. Zebras do not appear until just before the post-Flood Ice Age, which Wise estimates occurred hundreds of years after the Flood. This makes sense because zebras diversified from earlier members of the horse kind. Hippopotamus would not have been aboard Noah’s Ark either, as they seem to belong to the same ark kind as a now-extinct family of pig-like mammals called the anthracotheres. Interestingly, these and many other of Dr. Wise’s results are confirmed by prior hybridization, statistical baraminology research performed by other creationists to determine ark kinds.

Marine animals are the most well-represented organisms in the Flood-derived fossil record, which makes it curious that none of the modern marine whales, dolphins, manatees and dugongs have a fossil record that extends back to the Flood. In fact, these groups do not appear in the fossil record until quite sometime later. Based on PFCC, this strongly suggests that these groups did not exist before the Flood. This is further supported by fossil discoveries of “legged whales,” like Peregocetus, and manatee relatives, like Pezosiren, as well as the presence of diminutive hips and leg bones in modern whales. It is quite possible that modern whales and manatees belong to semi-aquatic or semi-terrestrial ark kinds that only adopted an aquatic lifestyle sometime after the Flood.

Some of Dr. Wise’s results were headscratchers. For example, creationists have long argued that the bear family is an ark kind. Bear fossils do not appear in the fossil record until about a quarter of the way between the Flood and Ice Age, however. PFCC would suggest, then, that bears and all other species of caniformia (e.g. dogs, weasels, skunks, seals and sea lions) come from the same ark kind. This contradicts previous and further research, and unlike the case with whales and manatees, there are currently no intermediate forms or evolutionary fossil series suggesting that a single ark kind gave rise to these groups.

For future researchers who wish to resolve the differences between Wise’s results and those of other scientists, it is advised that they initiate an in-depth examination of the completeness of the post-Flood fossil record, as well as further evaluate ark kinds research using other criteria. Nevertheless, PFCC has shown that most modern taxonomic mammal families are preserved in the earliest of post-Flood rock layers, which fits well with the creationist prediction that the ark kind is roughly equivalent to the family rank.

The views expressed in this article reflect those of the author(s) mentioned and not necessarily those of the editorial staff.


[1] The placement of the Flood/post-Flood boundary within the geologic column has been extensively debated among creation scientists for decades. Based on criteria developed by Dr. John Whitmore and Paul Garner, it is likely at or around the K-Pg boundary. Please see: “Whitmore, J.H., and Garner, P.A. (2008), Using suites of criteria to recognize pre-Flood, Flood,
and post-Flood strata in the rock record with application to Wyoming (USA)
, A.A.
Snelling, Editor, Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism,
Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA & Institute for Creation Research, Dallas,
TX, pp. 425-448.”

[2] Wise KP. Mammal kinds: how many were on the Ark. CORE Issues Creat. 2009;5:129–61.

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robert byers
robert byers
November 13, 2020 10:45 PM

Amen. There was no marine mammals before the flood. in fact i say there is nop such division in nature as mammals. Thats a human myth. There are just created kinds and coincidence if they have like traits for like needs. People are not mammals not anything else. We today are only looking at a spectrum of varity in kinds with certain members still here. So beatrs, seals, wolves, marsupial wolves, are the same kind and more. There was never that many kinds. Wise is a creationist that likely will be seen as a innovative leader in doing a better job in classification of biology in the future. finally whales are seen as critters from the ark. Finally.

Marc Surtees
May 2, 2021 1:28 PM

Hi Ryan,
I am a surprised to read that you believe that extant whales evolved from “legged whales”, like Peregocetus. I have read most of the published data (original papers) on whale evolution and found the evidence to be more consistent with the idea that the so called walking whales and extant whales are distinct kinds.

There are so many new features that are needed to turn a creature like Peregocetus into a baleen whale. The only thing that links the two are some of the features of the ear bones.

Also I am surprised to read the unequivocal acceptance of evolutionist claims that extant whales have diminutive hips and leg bones. I believe that the actual evidence is not consistent with that claim.

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