Kangaroos and the Flood

How did animals get from the Ark to places such as Australia?

I've added this page for little reason other than my personal amusement. The authors of this essay are perhaps rather more honest than those of some other creationist sites, though there are a few statements which are simply false. So much of the argument is based on unsupported assertions, and the invocation of wildly improbably events that it demonstrates the sheer absurdity of the premise.

Source: AiG web site

Link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/migration.asp"

Let us begin by reaffirming that God's Word does indeed reveal, in the plainest possible terms, that the whole globe was inundated with a violent, watery cataclysm-Noah's flood. All land-dwelling, air-breathing creatures not on the ark perished and the world was repopulated by those surviving on the ark (see Was the Flood global?).
So this 'scientific' account starts by declaring that it assumes that an event unsupported by any scrap of physical evidence occurred, and that any data must be interpreted with this prejudgment in mind.
Self-defeating from the beginning
How did the animals get to the ark?
Skeptics paint a picture of Noah going to countries remote from the Middle East to gather animals such as kangaroos and koalas from Australia, and kiwis from New Zealand.
As the assertion is that the kangaroos and kiwis were transported to Australia and New Zealand after the ark came to rest, these skeptics are being deliberately stupid!
However, the Bible states that the animals came to Noah; he did not have to round them up (Genesis 6:20). God apparently caused the animals to come to Noah. The Bible does not state how this was done.
Which is very convenient, as it allows any explanation as being equally valid, as none is supported by any evidence.
We also do not know what the geography of the world was like before the flood. If there was only one continent at that time (see later in this chapter), then questions of getting animals from remote regions to the ark are not relevant.
Geologists have a very good idea of what the geography of the world was like 6,000 or so years ago. It was more or less identical to the geography of today's world. There are no known natural processes which could have changed the disposition of the continents so rapidly in such a short time.
False assumption
Animal distribution after the flood
There are severe practical limitations on our attempts to understand the how's and whys of something that happened once, was not recorded in detail, and cannot be repeated.
There are very well developed scientific tools for investigation such events.
Difficulties in our ability to explain every single situation in detail result from our limited understanding. We cannot go back in a time machine to check what has happened, and our mental reconstructions of what the world was like after the Flood will inevitably be deficient. Because of this, the patterns of post-Flood animal migration present some problems and research challenges for the biblical creation model. However, there are clues from various sources which suggest answers to the questions.
There are very well developed scientific tools for investigation such events.
Clues from modern times
When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, the island remnant remained lifeless for some years, but was eventually recolonized by a surprising variety of creatures, including not only insects and earthworms, but birds, lizards, snakes and even a few mammals.
One would not have expected some of this surprising array of creatures to have crossed the ocean, but they obviously did.
Many studies have shown that living organisms colonise any available habitat very quickly, and such colonisation is extensively documented.
Even though these were mostly smaller than some of the creatures we will discuss here, it illustrates the limits of our imaginings on such things.
The mechanisms whereby small animals are transported are well-known, and the limitation on which animals can be transported by such methods is also well known.
Avoiding the issue
Land bridges
Evolutionists acknowledge that men and animals could once freely cross the Bering Strait, which separates Asia and the Americas.
This is because the Bering Straits are shallow, and a lower sea level would create such a land bridge.
Before the idea of continental drift became popular, evolutionists depended entirely upon a lowering of the sea level during an ice age (which locked up water in the ice) to create land bridges, enabling dry-land passage from Europe most of the way to Australia, for example.
Quite so. It was one of the difficult problems of geology which was resolved by plate tectonics
The existence of some deep-water stretches along the route to Australia is still consistent with this explanation.
The old theory of land bridges has been totally refuted.
Relying on refuted theoretical model
Evolutionist geologists themselves believe there have been major tectonic upheavals, accompanied by substantial rising and falling of sea floors, in the time period with which they associate an ice age.
Tectonic 'upheavals' are nothing to do with ice ages. There are mechanisms such as isostatic rebound which are associated with ice ages, but these have nothing to do with the effects of plate movement.
For instance, parts of California are believed to have been raised many thousands of feet from what was the sea floor during this ice age period, which they call 'Pleistocene' (one of the most recent of the supposed geological periods).
Quite so.
Creationist geologists generally regard Pleistocene sediments as post-Flood, the period in which these major migrations took place.
Creationists can believe anything they like, but as such beliefs are not supported by evidence they cannot call themselves geologists
In the same way, other dry land areas, including parts of these land bridges, subsided to become submerged at around the same time.
Quite so. And the mechanisms and timing of such events are extensively documented.
There is a widespread, but mistaken, belief that marsupials are found only in Australia, thus supporting the idea that they must have evolved there.
So what?
However, living marsupials, opossums, are found also in North and South America, and fossil marsupials have been found on every continent.
The marsupials found in Europe and Asia are very different from modern marsupials, and were apparently extinct by the end of the Oligocene. The extant marsupials in North America appeared after a relatively recent geological event in which a land bridge between South and America was established. The faunal interchange resulted in the extinction of most South American marsupials.
Likewise, monotremes were once thought to be unique to Australia, but the discovery in 1991 of a fossil platypus tooth in South America stunned the scientific community.
Quite so. But also this added support for the well-founded theory that a southern continent, comprising modern Australia, Antarctica, South America and Southern Africa was where marsupials and monotremes survived when the other continents were overrun by placentals.
Therefore, since evolutionists believe all organisms came from a common ancestor, migration between Australia and other areas must be conceded as possible by all scientists, whether evolutionist or creationist.
Non-sequitur. The conventional geological model provides evidence to support its conclusions. The creationist account relies on assertion and nothing else.
Unsupported assertion
Creationists generally believe there was only one Ice Age
In which case they had better provide some evidence to support such an assertion. Geologists have know for well over a century that there were several ice ages, and have vast amounts of evidence to support this.
Unsupported assertion
after, and as a consequence of, the Flood (see What about the Ice Age?).
In which case they had better provide some evidence to support such an assertion.
Unsupported assertion
The lowered sea level at this time made it possible for animals to migrate over land bridges for centuries.
True, but not between Asia and Australia. There is a wide stretch of very deep sea separating them.
Some creationists propose a form of continental break-up after the Flood, in the days of Peleg.
In which case they had better provide some evidence to support such an assertion. Note that "Answers in Genesis" cites this as an example of an argument not to use.
Unsupported assertion
This again would mean several centuries for animals to disperse, in this instance without the necessity of land bridges.
In which case they had better provide some evidence to support such an assertion.
Unsupported assertion
However, continental break-up in the time of Peleg is not widely accepted in creationist circles (see What about continental drift?).
So why raise it?
Did the kangaroo hop all the way to Australia?
How did animals make the long journey from the Ararat region?
There is absolutely no evidence that any animals did make such a journey
Unsupported assertion
Even though there have been isolated reports of individual animals making startling journeys of hundreds of miles, such abilities are not even necessary.
Why is this relevant?
Early settlers released a very small number of rabbits in Australia. Wild rabbits are now found at the very opposite corner (in fact, every corner) of this vast continent. Does that mean that an individual rabbit had to be capable of crossing the whole of Australia? Of course not. Creation speakers are sometimes asked mockingly, 'Did the kangaroo hop all the way to Australia?'
The rabbits didn't cross any major bodies of water.
We see by the rabbit example that this is a somewhat foolish question.
We see that this rabbit example is a very foolish analogy.
Populations of animals may have had centuries to migrate, relatively slowly, over many generations.
Which is completely irrelevant, as there is no evidence for any such migration
Incidentally, the opposite question (also common), as to whether the two kangaroos hopped all the way from Australia to the ark, is also easily answered. The continents we now have, with their load of Flood-deposited sedimentary rock, are not the same as whatever continent or continents there may have been in the pre-Flood world.
I'm finding this argument hard to follow. Is the writer saying that because the continents might have been differently arranged before the flood, that kangaroos might have been able to hop all the way to Australia before the flood? How is this relevant to what happened after the flood?
Logically inconsistent.
We also lack information as to how animals were distributed before the Flood.
We have excellent fossil evidence of how animals were distributed before the Pleistocene (which the author claims to mark the date of the flood).
Kangaroos (as is true for any other creature) may not have been on any isolated landmass.
The evidence - i.e. the complete absence of any kangaroo fossil outside Australia - suggests that this is simply an unfounded assertion.
Unfounded assertion
Genesis 1:9 suggests that there may have been only one landmass. ('Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear').
So what?
For all we know, kangaroos might have been feeding within a stone's throw of Noah while he was building the Ark.
The evidence - i.e. the complete absence of any kangaroo fossil outside Australia - suggests that this is simply an unfounded assertion.
Unfounded assertion
It may be asked, if creatures were migrating to Australia over a long time (which journey would have included such places as Indonesia, presumably) why do we not find their fossils en route in such countries?
Quite so.
Fossilization is a rare event, requiring, as a rule, sudden burial (as in the Flood) to prevent decomposition.
Fossilisation does not require sudden burial as in a flood. In fact, sudden burial in the turbulent waters suggested by the Biblical account of the flood would have made fossilisation very unlikely. There are many complex processes involved in fossilisation.
Lions lived in Israel until relatively recently. We don't find lion fossils in Israel, yet this doesn't prevent us believing the many historical reports of their presence.
Fossils of lions have been found in cave and gravel deposits in Jordan, in areas which formed part of Israel in Biblical times.
The millions of bison that once roamed the United States of America have left virtually no fossils. So why should it be a surprise that small populations, presumably under migration pressure from competitors and/or predators, and thus living in only one area for a few generations at most, should leave no fossils?
Bison live in an environment not particularly suitable for fossilisation. In asserting that this is a suitable analogy for kangaroos, the author is not comparing like with like. Kangaroos are only one clade within a hugely diverse clade on marsupials, which occupy in Australia a huge range of ecological niches. No remains of any marsupials have been found in post-Pleistocene deposits of any kind in Europe, North American or Asia, whereas literally millions of bones of placental mammals have been found.
False analogy
Unique organisms
Another issue is why certain animals (and plants) are uniquely found in only one place. Why is species x found only in Madagascar and species y only in the Seychelles? Many times, questions on this are phrased to indicate that the questioner believes that this means that species y headed only in that one direction, and never migrated anywhere else.
Completely untrue. The theory of why island faunas such as those of Madagascar are so radically different is that they were cut off from the mainland at a remote geological time and that they have followed a different evolutionary path. No serious biologist has suggested that these forms originated elsewhere and migrated to isolated islands.
While that is possible, it is not necessarily the case at all. All that the present situation indicates is that these are now the only places where x or y still survive.
In the complete absence of, for example, fossil Dodos from anywhere but Mauritius, and the fact that this is only one of a large number of island forms found only on islands, the evidence does not support this.
Unsupported assertion
The ancestors of present-day kangaroos may have established daughter populations in different parts of the world, but most of these populations subsequently became extinct.
There is not the smallest scrap of evidence to support this assertion.
Unsupported assertion
Perhaps those marsupials only survived in Australia because they migrated there ahead of the placental mammals (we are not suggesting anything other than 'random' processes in choice of destination), and were subsequently isolated from the placentals and so protected from competition and predation.
This makes no sense at all. The author is suggesting that a whole order of mammals, the marsupials, which occupy a huge range of ecological niches, migrated to Australia by chance, and that no placental mammals accompanied them? I know that creationists love to use probability-based arguments against abiogenesis, but has the author seriously considered the probability of such an event occurring by random chance as he is suggesting?
Utterly ridiculous argument!
Palm Valley in central Australia is host to a unique species of palm, Livingstonia mariae, found nowhere else in the world. Does this necessarily mean that the seeds for this species floated only to this one little spot? Not at all
Nobody in their right mind would suggest such a scenario. Australia is an arid continent, and palm seeds don't "float" around in deserts!
Current models of post-Flood climate indicate that the world is much drier now than it was in the early post-Flood centuries.
Bearing in mind the there is not a scrap of evidence to support the idea that a global flood occurred, the term post-Flood has no meaning.
Evolutionists themselves agree that in recent times (by evolutionary standards), the Sahara was lush and green, and central Australia had a moist, tropical climate.
Evolutionists' have demonstrated from the evidence that the Sahara was once lush and green. If they 'agree' it's because the evidence supports this.
For all we know, the Livingstonia mariae palm may have been widespread over much of Australia, perhaps even in other places that are now dry, such as parts of Africa.
Quite possibly. It is a very ancient genus.
The palm has survived in Palm Valley because there it happens to be protected from the drying out which affected the rest of its vast central Australian surroundings. Everywhere else, it died out.
The point being?
Incidentally, this concept of changing vegetation with changing climate should be kept in mind when considering post-Flood animal migration-especially because of the objections (and caricatures) which may be presented.
So the author accepts the evidence of climate change in recent times, but rejects evidence based on identical methodology for climate changes which show that the ice ages were not a single event.
Dishonest use of data
For instance, how could creatures that today need a rain forest environment trudge across thousands of kilometres of parched desert on the way to where they now live? The answer is that it wasn't desert then!
Just another unsupported assertion.
Unsupported assertion.
The koala and other specialized types
Some problems are more difficult to solve. For instance, there are creatures that require special conditions or a very specialized diet, such as the giant panda of China or Australia's koala. We don't know, of course, that bamboo shoots or blue gum leaves were not then flourishing all along their eventual respective migratory paths. In fact, this may have influenced the direction they took.
They might have flown there on magic carpets, but unless there is evidence to support the idea it is merely an unsupported assertion.
Unsupported assertion
But, in any case, there is another possibility. A need for unique or special conditions to survive may be a result of specialization, a downhill change in some populations.
Downhill' meaning?
Poor use of terms
That is, it may result from a loss in genetic information, from thinning out of the gene pool or by degenerative mutation.
Carefully skirting around the use of the word 'evolution', I note. What is 'degenerative mutation'? How does a gene pool become 'thinned out'?
Poor use of terms
A good example is the many modern breeds of dog, selected by man (although natural conditions can do likewise), which are much less hardy in the wild than their 'mongrel' ancestors.
So what? Dog breeds are artificially selected for features which are not necessarily beneficial to the dogs.
For example, the St Bernard carries a mutational defect, an overactive thyroid, which means it needs to live in a cold environment to avoid overheating.
Which is, of course, also a useful adaptation for an animal living in cold climates.
This suggests that the ancestors of such creatures, when they came off the Ark, were not as specialized.
Non-sequitur. It suggests nothing other than animal evolve.
Thus they were more hardy than their descendants, who carry only a portion of that original gene pool of information.
Their gene pool is different, not diminished
In other words, the koala's ancestor may have been able to survive on a much greater range of vegetation.
Of course the koalas ancestor was. It evolved into a particular symbiotic relationship with its gut bacteria and the eucalyptus trees in which it lives and feeds. That what makes it a koala.
Such an explanation has been made possible only with modern biological insights.
Modern biological insights also provide immense support for evolutionary theory.
Perhaps as knowledge increases some of the remaining difficulties will become less so.
This is fine, so long as you don't pick and chose only those small scraps of that knowledge which you think support your prejudgments.
Such changes do not require a long time for animals under migratory pressure.
Another unsupported assertion.
Unsupported assertion
The first small population that formed would tend to break up rapidly into daughter populations, going in different directions, each carrying only a portion of the gene pool of the original pair that came off the ark.
Biological nonsense. Gene pools simply don't get split this way.
Sometimes all of a population will eventually become extinct; sometimes all but one specialized type.
We know all about this. It's called evolution.
Where all the sub-types survive and proliferate, we find some of the tremendous diversity seen among some groups of creatures which are apparently derived from one created kind.
Bearing in mind that there is no biologically meaningful definition of 'kind' this is simply another unfounded assertion.
unfounded assertion
This explains why some very obviously related species are found far apart from each other.
Yes. It's called evolution.
The sloth, a very slow-moving creature, may seem to require much more time than Scripture allows to make the journey from Ararat to its present home.
Perhaps its present condition is also explicable by a similar evolutionary process.
In the absence of any other valid theory, it seems a pretty good bet to go with it!
However, to account for today's animal distribution, evolutionists themselves have had to propose that certain primates
Hang on. Is the author suggesting that the sloth is a primate?
Profound ignorance
have traveled across hundreds of miles of open ocean on huge rafts of matted vegetation torn off in storms.
No, they suggest that tectonic plate movements isolated populations.
Indeed, iguanas have recently been documented traveling hundreds of kilometres in this manner between islands in the Caribbean.
Quite so. Iguanas are very hardy animals which can survive for long periods with very little food. Mammals are far less able to do so.
The Bible suggests a pattern of post-Flood dispersal of animals and humans that accounts for fossil distribution of apes and humans, for example.
So what?
In post-Flood deposits in Africa, ape fossils are found below human fossils.
Humans are apes.
Evolutionists claim that this arose because humans evolved from the apes,
Though a little misleading: 'evolutionists' propose that humans evolved from other apes and provide a vast amount of anatomical and genetic evidence to support that proposal.
but there is another explanation. Animals, including apes, would have begun spreading out over the earth straight after the flood, whereas the Bible indicates that people refused to do this (Genesis 9:1, 11:1-9).
Which is another assertion backed by not the tiniest smidgeon of evidence.
Unsupported assertion
Human dispersal did not start until Babel, some hundreds of years after the Flood.
Another unsupported assertion.
Unsupported assertion
Such a delay would have meant that some ape fossils would be found consistently below human fossils, since people would have arrived in Africa after the apes.
It would not explain the fact that there is good evidence of several species of early human living alongside modern man - the Flores hominid to cite a recent example.
Unsupported assertion
We may never know the exact answer to every one of such questions, but certainly one can see that the problems are far less formidable than they may at first appear.
Provided that one bases one's argument on unsupported assertions and a highly selective use of data, no problem is especially formidable.
Coupled with all the biblical,
Which is not scientific, and not treated as scientific by the majority of the world's Christians ...
…which is non-existent ...
and anthropological
…which is also non-existent ...
evidence for Noah's Flood, one is justified in regarding the Genesis account of the animals dispersing from a central point as perfectly reasonable.
...which not supported by a scrap of evidence.
Not only that, but the biblical model provides an excellent framework for the scientific study of these questions.
It provided a model for the explanation of the natural world which studies by the founders of the science of geology over 200 years ago showed was not supported by the evidence. As a scientific model for the study of geology it is absolutely useless.