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.
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.
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.