American Faith: Noah and His Kangaroos

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A 2018 study out of Flinders University has found evidence that suggests modern kangaroos diversified as a result of grassland expansion during the Pliocene - 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP.

Though we have an abundance of paleontological evidence that kangaroos evolved in isolation on Australia and New Guinea, many American evangelicals hold steadfast to the myth that kangaroos were among the animals saved by Noah on the Ark (2348 BP) and then migrated over 7,000 miles on land and sea.

“Is there a Bible-based model that explain’s scientifically how kangaroos may have migrated from where the Ark landed to where they live today?” The evidence says no.


Scientific Facts

figure 1 — tree-kangaroos. top: left, lithograph of bennett’s tree-kangaroo (dendrolagus bennettianus); right, photograph of matschie’s tree-kangaroo (dendrolagus matschiei). (images from wikimedia commons). bottom: outlines showing a kangaroo (left) and tree-kangaroo (right), redrawn from martin (2005).

figure 1 — tree-kangaroos. top: left, lithograph of bennett’s tree-kangaroo (dendrolagus bennettianus); right, photograph of matschie’s tree-kangaroo (dendrolagus matschiei). (images from wikimedia commons). bottom: outlines showing a kangaroo (left) and tree-kangaroo (right), redrawn from martin (2005).

  • Palaeopotorous priscus
    Discovered in Australia in the 1980’s, fossil and DNA evidence was able to determine that Palaeopotorous priscus lived around 24 million years ago and likely represents the most distant forerunner of all known kangaroos.

  • Biblical Ice Age
    Scientists have recorded five significant ice ages throughout the Earth’s history: the Huronian (2.4-2.1 billion years ago), Cryogenian (850-635 million years ago), Andean-Saharan (460-430 mya), Karoo (360-260 mya) and Quaternary (2.6 mya-present).
    Approximately a dozen major glaciations have occurred over the past 1 million years, the largest of which peaked 650,000 years ago and lasted for 50,000 years. The most recent glaciation period, often known simply as the “Ice Age,” reached peak conditions some 18,000 years ago before giving way to the interglacial Holocene epoch 11,700 years ago. (According to History.com)

    We have climate data indicating temperature spikes and dips, but no evidence at all of any major worldwide “ice age” during the Bronze Age.

  • Bronze Age Humans
    The Bible would have you believe that from 2350 BP and 2000BP the only human on earth were the nine generations of a single family. But, we have overwhelming archaeological and historical evidence of Humans all over the globe during the entirety of the Bronze Age. Though we have found evidence of human groups dying off during this period (famine, war, etc.) we have no evidence what so ever of a mass die-off due to a worldwide flood.

    • Paleolithic or Mesolithic hunter-gatherers throughout the Americas, Northern Asia, South Africa, and Australia/New Guinea

    • Nomadic Pastoralists in Northern Africa

    • Simple Farming Societies in Central America, Central Africa, and throughout Eastern Asia

    • Complex Farming Societies throughout Europe and Western Asia

    • Established City-States Societies in the Fertile Crescent and Zhao China

      See a detailed map here

  • Australian Land Bridge
    There has always been an ocean separating Asia and Australia. At times this distance may have been reduced by low sea level periods but Kangaroos would have still had to cross large stretches of water.

    Australia was once joined to New Guinea, forming a landmass called Sahul. However, they were separated by rising sea levels about 8,000 years ago. We have no evidence of a continuous land bridge from Asia to Australia (or Sahul).

  • Evidence of Migration
    Giant kangaroos can travel at about 16 mph (cruising speed). If they traveled at half speed (7–8 mph for long-distance travel) and only traveled for 6–8 hours per day (being that kangaroos spend 3/4 of the day resting and eating), it would have taken them over 100 days to reach Australia. However, take into account the terrain (numerous mountains, river, ocean water...) and hazardous conditions left in the wake of a year long flood, it probably took them several years and multiple generations to make the trek. We would have discovered bone/fossil evidence, genealogical evidence, or both outside of Australia - there is none.
    More damning to the idea of a 100 day migration is the lack of substance. Kangaroos would need to burn a large amount of calories to make such a voyage. All land based plants and seed would have been wiped out after being submerged in saltwater for nearly a year. Kangaroos would not have lasted more than a few of the journey let alone 100 plus days.

  • Speciation

    There is a rich fossil record for kangaroo ancestors and ancient relatives; giant kangaroos plodded through the Pleistocene (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) and the Pliocene (5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago)
    The first western explorer to document kangaroos was Peter Martyr, who published his findings shortly after 1500. Based on this, the Bible would assert that kangaroo speciation took place in less than 3800 years. This is highly unlikely being that there are currently 67 species of Macropodidae found in Australia and New Guinea including Great kangaroos, Tree-kangaroos, Rat-kangaroos, and Musky rat-kangaroos. Such drastic species variation over a short time period respectively is unheard of. Western science would have over 500 documented years of this Macropodidae transition - but we do not.


source:

Science, Rapid Pliocene adaptive radiation of modern kangaroos, Aidan Couzens and Gavin Prideaux, Oct 5, 2018
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6410/72

Kangaroos at Risk, biology & population ecology, Raymond Mjadwesch, December 2011
https://www.kangaroosatrisk.net/2-biology--population-ecology.html

Ice Age, History.Com Editors, June 7, 2019
https://www.history.com/topics/pre-history/ice-age

Nature, The First Description of a Kangaroo, Tad. Estreicher,
https://www.nature.com/articles/093060a0

Palaeontology[online], Fossil Focus: The evolution of tree-kangaroos, Christine Janis, 2013
https://www.palaeontologyonline.com/articles/2013/the-evolution-of-tree-kangaroos/