Yes, biodiversity is a problem for any young-earth supposition.
The simple fact of extensive extinction is a horrible problem for YEC. The population estimates are absolutely impossible in the time frame of only several hundred years. It is impossible to reconcile the stated basis of YEC claims with the reality of only 1 in 1000 species surviving on earth to modern times. (The ark was supposed to save them all. Why let 99.9% die off shortly thereafter?)
Not only are the South American ungulate species problematic for YEC all by themselves, there is the further fact that the majority of ungulate species are clean. Accordingly, there were not just a single pair of each of these different ungulates on the ark, but seven pairs, making it that much more remarkable that they all died out. (Seven mating pairs gives much better odds of surviving than only a single pair.)
Note, contrary to YEC assumptions and rationalizations, the bible explicitly defines kinds in Leviticus 11 (and elsewhere). Kinds of ravens; kinds of hawks; at least three locust/grasshoppers, each specified after its kinds, and beetles after their kinds (though the word might have been another set of locust type insects). Kinds is not genera or family, but species, or from Leviticus (and the bird list is reiterated in Deuteronomy), we must allow subspecies, by the modern definition. By the way, what bird or insect of any kind goes about on four feet? (Four, not six, not two–four. Leviticus 11:20, אַרְבַּ֑ע, not to mention bats listed with the birds.) Using the biblical definition of “kinds”, there would have been many thousands of clean ungulates on Noah’s ark.
Further, you mention the birds. The bible doesn’t delineate what birds are clean, but rather gives an explicit (though hard to define) list of unclean birds. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume from the express statements in the bible all the extinct birds were clean, including the enormous flightless birds. Thousands of those too on the ark.
A side note on clean: given the many generations Noah preceded Moses, what’s up with “clean” anyway?
Life is incredibly diverse. Millions of species fill the seas, land and skies of our little planet. It seems as if there is no end to the discovery of new animals, plants and other life forms. As a biologist who teaches a class about plant diversity, I can always count on discovering a new group of plants that I have never seen before which is always exciting. But what blows my mind even more is the thought that what I see living around me today is but a tiny fraction of the diversity of life that has lived on this Earth.
the mind-boggling estimates of number of species that have lived on earth versus the number alive right now. Extinct marine reptiles on the left and cetacean alive today on the right. Image: Joel Duff
When you begin to look at fossils, the animals alive today can suddenly seem a bit mundane. And…
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