An Armadillo Test Case of YEC Post-flood Dispersal Speed

Just how quickly can animals expand their geographical range?  Recently I expressed my skepticism about young-earth creationist’ claims that animals could depart an ark in the Middle East and migrated all the way to South America in just a few years (Glyptodonts, Armadillos and Ken Ham’s Hyper-Speciation Model).  Take the armadillos I wrote about.  There are abundant suitable habitats for an armadillo available in Asia and the Middle East.  What would entice armadillos to bypass all the places they could live and make the long, dangerous and difficult trek to South America?  Why did none migrate to Europe and Africa?

Given the chance, I would not expect YECs to predict a priori that armadillos should be found only in the New World if the ark landed in heart of the Old World.  But our observational science—what Ken Ham says we should use—provides no evidence that armadillos have ever lived anywhere else.

A 9-banded armadillo. I took this picture in Ft. Myers FL last year. Image: Joel Duff

A 9-banded armadillo. I took this picture in Ft. Myers FL. Image: Joel Duff

Imagine what the migration of a small mammal across the world would have been like.  Any animal who would have made this 12,000+ mile migration would have encountered many obstacles including rivers, mountain ranges, deserts, and very colder climates.  A small armadillo would have no interest in climbing over the Himalaya Mountains or forging the many large rivers of China, braving the cold regions of the Bering land bridge from Asia to Alaska, crossing the many rivers in North America and trekking all of the way through Mexico and Central America.   Any wildlife biologists who has spent any time observing animal migration would tell you that it would many take tens of thousands of years for a small mammal population to accomplish this type of geographical dispersal if it could happen at all.

Although we can reasonable infer the difficulty of this migration we can also observe the reality of the slow pace of migration.  Just consider the actual migration of the nine-banded armadillo in the USA.  These armadillos have few predators and can adapt to many habitats.  This animal should be more capable of expanding it geographical range than most species. And yet, as of the early 1800s the nine-banded armadillo had not yet crossed over the Rio Grande river into Texas despite being common in Mexico.  When they finally did, they progressively expanded its geographical range reaching up into Oklahoma  by the early 1900s and down into the Florida, the latter migration with the help of humans.  It has now expanded above Oklahoma and through the southern states.

Map of the expansion of the nine-banded armadillo through the 1980s. These animals have been migrating as much as 100 miles per decade.

Map of the expansion of the nine-banded armadillo through the 1980s. These animals have been migrating as much as 100 miles per decade.

This expansion of the populations of nine-banded armadillos is considered to be an example of very rapid small animal migration.  And yet it has taken nearly 200 years for these quick-reproducing animals to invade several states.

Now, compare this observed migration rate (ie. Ken Ham’s observational science which remember is the only data that can be trusted) with the hypothetical super-fast migration of these animals in the YEC post-flood migration scenario.

Fast but not fast enough!

When I read about the migration of armadillos I immediately recognized that even this  observed rapid migration was still far far too slow for the creationist’ post-Flood migration hypothesis.  Ironically though I then ran across a YEC article that reports the very same story of armadillo population expansion but tries to use armadillos to make exactly the opposite point.   After reporting the migration of nine-banded armadillos into Texas and through the southeast the author, Lael Weinberger wrote in the article, “Amazing armoured armadillos of the Americas“, the following:

For creationists, the observed rapid spread of the nine-banded armadillo in recent history is a great case study of the dispersal of animals that happened after the Flood, as the earth was repopulated with animals. The geographical spread of some types of animals, as in the case of the armadillo, can happen with astonishing rapidity by both natural means and human assistance.

I will admit that just 200 year to expand over the southern USA is pretty impressive. But, how is this a great case study for the creationist?  Much of the expansion has been due to humans which carried them to Florida and provided railroad cars  for them to hitch rides on.  Just after the Flood humans were limited for several hundred years to the area around Babel so according to the YEC timeline humans could be of no help to get armadillos across mountains, rivers and cold northern climates.  The observation that it has taken nearly 200 years for them to spread as far as they have into nearly ideal habitats contradicts the rapidity of migration required by YEC post-Flood repopulation models.

If armadillos are a case study which represents some of the fastest migrating animals and they don’t even help the creationist, what then are they to do with other animals that have far more restrictive habitat demands and thus would be less inclined to move from a good habitat into a much poorer one?  The long-distance dispersal of animals after the Flood from a single location and radiating out over the world has never found any support in the fossil record nor made any biological sense.

We haven’t even touched on the fact that YECs also believe that animals hyper-evolved into many species after leaving the ark.   The fact that all armadillo species (extant and extinct) are found in the new world suggests that the animals that left the ark migrated all the way to the New World and then began to experience hyper-speciation. Had they begun to speciate right away then the YEC migration mystery deepens even futher.  They would need to explain why possibly many dozens of species of armadillos all migrated together to the New World leaving no evidence of this history behind.

YEC migration speculations have received much criticism from secular and Christian scientists.  Many of the same problems that I have highlighted with armadillos exist for kangaroos and hundreds of other animals.  Likewise the armadillo problem is a further extension of the same problem YECs have with ungulates in South America that have written about before – The Lost World of South American Ungulates: A YEC Ungulate Problem.


Previously published June 2016.

Comments

  1. Forget armadillos, I want to know how the sloths got to South America. :)

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  2. leave kangaroos alone! They eat grass and can hop 1000 miles a day. They are awesome. If you need an example choose a koala or giant gippsland earth worm

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  3. I’d like creationists to explain how a blind mole made it to the arc then back to Australia.

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  4. I wonder if you are grasping at straws expecting a “natural” YEC explanation for this. As the Noah story already contains numerous supernatural interventions, including the suggestion that God miraculously brought the animals to Noah, I used to consider it perfectly reasonable, if you already accept the other included interventions, to assume that God would have also supernaturally intervened to assist the animals in the reverse migration after the flood.

    However, I would ask why we should expect the animals to migrate back to the same geographical locations as their fossil records indicates they originated, since surely miles of newly deposited rock layers would drastically change the landscape and thus presumably habitat and climate from where they previously had lived.

    (As old-earth creationists from the 19th century argued, Genesis’ pre-flood reference to Tigris and Euphrates rivers suggests the flood, which they argued could be interpreted in a limited/regional sense, did not alter the surface landscape to such a massive degree…)

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    • christopher kederich says:

      Unfortunately, you are right. I have tried explaining some of this to assorted young earth types–and I should add I am a Bible believer AND a Geologist–but reason slid off them as if greased. Vacant smiles, perfectly self-assured, and nonsensical replies are the rule. This is spiritual deception, and probably should be addressed as such.
      In past generations anti-semitism was somehow thought to be Biblically sanctioned. What bible they were reading is a mystery to me.
      Other generations somehow thought that racial slavery was right, despite all that Apostle Paul said on the subject.
      Better understanding of the subjects of geology and biology might help some confused believers, but by no means all. No amount of knowledge or truth will dissuade those who enjoy the falsehood.

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  5. Just look at the AiG “cat kind” (Proailurus lemanensis) leaving the Ark to found 36 now extinct and 38 living cat species (Belknap & Chaffey in current January/March “Answers,” pp. 56-63). See them also on YouTube discussing their work with chief editor Mike Matthews for an hour on January 12. (No, we won’t be seeing on Ken’s ark their guess as to what an ur-elephant looked like. But lots of bats in one display – apparently a “clean” animal before what Moses wrote. Also “Pakicetus” from maybe 50 million years ago, “obviously” not a whale ancestor.) But – how fast did the cats go?

    There are three Proailurus on record. From SE Turkey it’s a 4,000+ mile hike to 101.6 degrees east in Mongolia, about 30 million years in the Oligocene. The cat on record (Filhol, 1879) is a lower jaw from the Mainz Basin – maybe Biebrich’s big, old pit just north of the Rhine? – a hike of 2,440+ miles (not as a crow flies). A third cat made it another 750 miles into NE Spain. These European “dawn cats” are early Miocene, maybe 22 million years. But Mainz is only 25 miles WNW from Messel, at 48-47 Ma, and when “Answers: was doing the Ida fossil (May 19, 2009), the word was: “Because of the location of this fossil, it may have been buried by a post-Flood period of residual catastrophism amid an unstable climate.” Messel is a subtropical ecosystem – which is why we should believe that Earth was warmer for maybe up to a post-Flood century before the ICR/AiG ice age slams into continental Europe. So by then Messel (ten miles south of Frankfurt) had loaded in 600+ feet of oil-shale (from algae under God’s bright sun), with 45 mammal species including 8 little pregnant mares. On YouTube, Belknap says that somethiong resembling “Mesohippus” may have been on Noah’s Ark. (I say that Ken’s “Encounter” design utterly fails, NOT a synergy of form & function.

    Back to Germany’s first cat – quickly there and gone? AiG should say if the Nordlingen and Steinheim craters SE from Messel and Mainz were by when their ice age started. Then maybe 100 years after Babel (their date 2250 BC) the “Federmesser Culture” was established across Germany and beyond, its flints buried by the 12,900-years-ago explosion of a Pinatubo-size volcano still a bit warm yet under Laacher See (70 miles downstream on the Rhine from Mainz to Andernach). This dammed the Rhine for a time, you know. So how long before the next people arrived? We can only say with Alice, “curiouser and curiouser.” GLL

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  6. Preston Garrison says:

    Armadillos clearly hitch hike, but they are bad at it. We see the evidence of their failures all the time down here in Texas. :)

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    • christopher kederich says:

      I keep recalling the Biblical line that goes (approximately) “My people perish for lack of understanding/knowledge.” Hosea 4:6. One problem is simply that to believe what we, the scientists say, the listener must either have great confidence in us,,, or a great treasure of learned and applied knowledge. Most non-professional scholars/scientists simply have no such learning, nor the time to learn it, nor the understanding of how much it affects their modern lives.

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  7. Robert Byers says:

    They didn’t migrate. They only developed in the new world. It was a greater KIND that they simply are a part of. this happened a lot. by the way YEC should/would see a tropical world directly following the flood. Only later did it become segregated weather types and impoverished food supply.
    It happened as the bible says and it works.

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