Why Don't We See Dinosaurs in Most Paintings of Noah's Ark?

As part of my Noah’s Ark: Beyond Flannelgraph presentation, I typically show kids a Powerpoint slide of one of the more famous paintings of Noah’s Ark by Edward Hicks and ask the kids: What’s missing? Eventually, they realize that dinosaurs are missing. [It helps when Billy Behemoth, our sauropod sidekick, appears in the painting in the next Powerpoint slide transition!]

But why aren’t dinosaurs in paintings of Noah’s Ark?

Well, keep in mind that paintings aren’t photographs. The distinction is important! No one photographed the animals going aboard the Ark, so the artist has to give us his interpretation of what it looked like.

There are actually 3 reasons dinosaurs have been left out of Ark scenes.


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Comment by Tony Breeden on May 17, 2010 at 3:37pm
Oh, I completely agree. It's something that bothers me as both a Creationist and an artist. I should add that this problem is also applicable to scenes of the Garden of Eden.

I first noted this problem when I was a pre-teen and someone commented upon the dinos in my Creation drawing, noting something to the effect that they'd never seen a dinosaur in a drawing of eden before. [My grandfather is a Gap theorist; he thinks my drawings are absolutely nutters on this point]. I was pleasantly surprised by the Garden scene at Answers in Genesis' Creation Museum [Been there 4 times so far!] for it not only included dinos, but a three-toed horse and some sort of original cat kind that was, well, distinct from anything living today. [I'm still trying to figure saber-tooths into the cat kind[s] and I have much the same problem with shovel-tuskers in the elephant kinds[s]]

I was very excited to learn about baraminology last year. Someone let me in on the idea of baranomes [viz. genomes] this year. I think the fields are very exciting. My only complaint is that the information is not widely disseminated on a layman's level. How is one to accurately portray rthese original created kinds and the kinds that were present abaord the Ark without a playbill of sorts?

If the current theory is that there was a rapid burst of speciation post-Flood, the theory is incomplete. It's somewhat obvious from the Creationist view of the fossil record that mammals experianced a rapid burst of speciation post-Flood, but dinos and some others creatures experienced a similar burst post-Fall. Carnivory seems evident in fossil record we attribute to the Flood, so I would attribute the sort of genetic changes that resulted in predation to the self-same post-Fall burst. However, while dinos and marine life show an evident burst of speciation pre-Flood preserved in the fossil record, other groups don't seem to show the same level of variation. I do think the Ark kinds had sufficient genetic plasticity to result in the wide variety of present fauna. I also suppose that the wide variety of dino species pre-Flood might suggest a reason for their eventual extinction - it's possible they'd already reached the Mendellian limits of their variability and were unable to adapt much further in the catastrophic post-Flood world. Just a guess.

But back to my basic complaint, the artist needs more information!

Rev Tony Breeden
Comment by Caleb Hines on May 16, 2010 at 2:46pm
Actually, I've recently been thinking about something similar for a while. It isn't just dinosaurs that are missing -- there are lots of extinct kinds of mammals too (Brontotheres, Chalicotheres , Paleaotheres, Embrithopods, Indricotherium...) that aren't shown. Of course, these are less well known then dinosaurs.

But even beyond this, creationist biologists have been building up the field of baraminology, which recognizes designed variations and built-in adaptability within the original created "kinds" (baramins), to the extent that many species and genera are believed to have descended from a single Genesis kind. Instead of a single nested "tree of life", this forms more of a "forest of life", where there are distinctly separate kinds (trees), but variation of genera and species within each kind (branches and leaves). The current theory is that there was a rapid burst of speciation following the flood.

If this is true, than we may need to alter ark pictures even more drastically -- instead of showing horses and zebras separately (as in the above picture) we may need to show only a pair of the original horse kind (which diversified after the flood). Instead of showing separate pairs of lions, tigers, leopards, saber-tooth cats, etc... we might only need to show a single pair of the original cat kind. And the same thing for dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals, and dingoes -- replaced with a single pair of a dog kind that diversified after the flood. And so on... Of course, this would involve identifying the created kinds, and reconstructing what they may have looked like.

I'm not sure if anyone's even tried to do it, but *that* ark picture would look very different, indeed!

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