The Great Flood and the food web
|Rescued from the|
|Twelve of the clean kind|
The story of Noah and the Ark presents severe problems for anyone who, as Creationists often do, wishes to view said tale as an accurate record of historical events. One of these problems: Exactly what did all those animals eat after the Flood had receded (and what did they eat while on the Ark)?
If we take the Bible's account of the Flood as accurate, every plant that grows on the ground was completely and utterly submerged under thousands of feet of salty water for well over a year. Thus, there would have been no plants on which herbivores could feed, and all herbivores would soon have starved to death. Once there are no herbivores to feed on, all carnivores starve to death; as soon as the last herbivores and carnivores are dead, it won't take long for the scavengers to join them. A few unicellular creatures, such as algae, might survive and adapt to the post-Flood conditions. The only eukaryotic organisims that would stand any chance of survival would be protists and perhaps some unicellular fungi.
In addition, deposition of silt, especially in the hydroplate model, would have seriously disrupted soils and especially soil nutrients so even after surviving the effects of salination of the soils, productivity of soils would be low. Also just in the days after seasons are presumably still in effect and there is a delay before very productive plant life would be available and the herbivores still needed to eat; overcropping would have been a serious transitory problem. Bacteria and other micro-organisms are also critical for soil quality and even symbiotic connections to plants and these conditions would also have been disrupted.
The predator animals needed to be eating something moments after emerging from the Ark so with a sparse supply of prey animals, what did the predators hunt? Or perhaps this temporary shortage of prey is the cause of some undocumented mass extinction of prey species. While the gestation period for mice might be short, young antelope would take a while and most predators either hunt the old and sick or the young. Lions and tigers and cheetahs would have had slim pickings for a few years.
Sea food supply
So much for the land. What of the seas?
As it happens, the oceanic food web is critically dependent on plankton and phytoplankton, microscopic animals and plants which live within a few centimeters of the surface. Since the Flood requires adding some 3.3 times the Earth's existing supply of water to what was originally there to begin with, it follows that the salinity of the Flood would be significantly reduced. If one assumes perfect mixing at all times, the salt content of any given cup of Flood-water would be approximately (1 / (1 + 3.3) =) 23% as much as that of any given cup of ocean water. If one takes into account the fact that [a] there was 40 days and 40 nights of salt-free rain depositing fresh water on top of the Flood, and [b] salt water is heavier than fresh water, it is clear that the salt content of the uppermost layer of the Flood, that small part of the ocean within which plankton and phytoplankton live, would be much, much lower than one would expect with perfect mixing.
From lots of salt to practically no salt within 40 days: For creatures that are adapted to a saline environment, this is a recipe for extinction. Once the plankton and phytoplankton are gone, all creatures which feed on them starve to death, followed by all creatures which eat plankton-feeders, followed by…
End result: The oceans become just as dead as the land.
Ecosystem dependent species
The spotted owl controversy of a few years back highlights another problem: some species depend for their food on very specific ecosystems. Many woodpeckers, for example, require large standing groves of very old yet living trees to provide a food source for the insects on which they feed. Without old-growth forests, they have no place to live. There would have been no old-growth forests after the flood. Were the woodpeckers supposed to wait decades or centuries for the forests to regrow and then grow old before they could start eating?
Problems of this sort abound. Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is a plant that lives in a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil fungus. The soil fungus, in turn, lives off of certain species of trees. Indian pipe seeds will only grow in soil permeated with the fungus and the fungus only grows with the trees it feeds off of. Again, the Indian pipe seeds will need to wait decades or longer to find soil in which they can grow. This is far longer than their seeds can survive. (Of course, they wouldn't have survived the flood to begin with, but that's another article.)