What did leopard seals eat before the Fall?

Ken Ham is such a disappointment. He has this regular series of short radio-style bits of apologetics, and they are dreary and boring. I had hopes for this one, about "Carnivores Before the Fall (Leopard Seals)" -- I expected some juicy stories about what these big, large-fanged predators ate before the Fall. This, for example, is what a leopard seal looks like before it bites your face off. (But don't worry, there are very few examples of them attacking people.)


Big, hungry, sharp-toothed animals — what did they eat if all animals were vegetarians, once upon a time? Let's ask Ken Ham!

(Note: if you start listening to this and find yourself gagging over Ham's sing-song "I'm talking to stupid children!" voice, there's a transcript of the relevant part down below.)

It is the second largest seal species reaching lengths of 11 and a half feet length and 840 pounds. Using their strong jaws and inch long teeth, leopard seals will kill and eat almost anything, including seals, squids, penguins, seabirds, and shellfish. Now did God originally create leopard seals to be such vicious predators? No, he didn't! Genesis tells us that originally animals were created to be vegetarian, including leopard seals. It was because of sin that death and carnivory entered into the creation. Death was never part of God's original design.

He punted. After describing the voracious eating habits of leopard seals, he just asserts that they were vegetarians. No explanation. No discussion of what an animal so well adapted to killing and eating meat might have gnawed on with those canines and incisors. Kelp, maybe? Plankton? Oh wait, those are small animals, can't have that. Did they desperately scrape algae off of rocks? What?

That was a pathetic effort, Ken.

But I did notice something. Perhaps you've heard that common refrain in apologetics, that because the Bible predicts the universe had a beginning, and physicists have confirmed that their was a Big Bang, science has effectively validated the Bible. It seems to me that if the Bible says that organisms were all immortal and undying 6000 years ago, and science has shown that animals were dying 500 million years ago, the science has effectively refuted that interpretation of the Bible.

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In the beginning God created a prefect world, death and ending weren't part of the equation. The fact that all animals were vegetarian, is because the principles of the prefect world God created was different than its is now. After the fall the whole creation was subjected to a new set of laws. Therefor you cannot compare the present world with its perfect former, because our reasoning and available facts is subjected to different principles and rules.
The teeth we see in the leopard in our present world that tear flesh is the also the same teeth the were used for eating green.

By AS Knoetze, 15203469 (not verified) on 12 Apr 2015 #permalink

Well - there's bit of the contradiction here. The biologists have pretty clear idea which kind of teeth are good for eating plant material and which kind is more suitable for eating flesh - and if the teeth of leopard seal today are well adjusted for carnivorous diet (strong jaw and sharp teeth), if these had really been _the same_ before the (supposed) Fall, they'd be decidedly rather poorly designed for herbivorous diet and therefore they were hardly _perfect_.

It would be safer to claim that "In the Garden of Eden, teeth were merely a decoration and all the creation was fed intravenously". :-) (Or miraculously.)

If there was no death before the fall then how could the animals eat plants? Doesn't eating a plant tend to kill it? Herbivores really are a murderous lot!

By AnswersInGenitals (not verified) on 12 Apr 2015 #permalink

I think that God, in the beginning, knew that the fall would happen. So with the knowledge that carnivory would come into play after the fall, God created animals with tools such as long teeth and strong jaws to eat other animals as well as plants. Think of the lion or the shark for example, each well equipped to tear and eat meat. It wouldn't make sense for God to create such animals with such specific structures if they were to only consume plants.

I never expect anything but amusement from that man. It gets to a point where I just give up though, it's too frustrating sometimes that people actually buy into this. The reality is so much more beautiful and fascinating than the vitriol that Ham is shoving down peoples throats.


By The Beast (not verified) on 12 Apr 2015 #permalink

well let say the two cannot be explained- Science and the bible are too apart. Empirically, science can be reliable because it back up it facts whilst bible was written then with little or no evidence to prove all what it says. I think to believe in the bible you need faith yep, faith solely in contrast science need not your faith but rather how well you can justify and prove you theory by means of empirical evidence. The evolution of animals is not or little explained in the bible perhaps that why we may tend to buy the scientist theories as the blogger mentioned it "refuted" the bible explanations in most instances.

By Brian Ndlovu 1… (not verified) on 13 Apr 2015 #permalink

I have a better question: What could we learn about prehistoric predatory marine reptiles like mosasaurs/plesiosaurs from studying Leopard seals?

At the bottom of Mr Hams beliefs is fear. Its the sort of fear we get when we realise our parents don't know everything. So he and many like him must cling to a safe world and defend it at all costs. As technology advances many fear for the future and wonder what the final result will be. My advice to him and others is to face the world as it is not as we would wish it to be.

By magnocrat (not verified) on 13 Apr 2015 #permalink

To answer the question of what seals ate before the Fall: the Bible describes the world as a place where all animals existed in piece with one another, thus all were herbivores with teeth only developed to slice through plant materials. After the Fall, evolution took over and these seals had to adjust to a new way of living, their teeth developed further to help them slice and chew meat easily.

By Joubert Alone … (not verified) on 14 Apr 2015 #permalink

"It feeds on a wide variety of creatures" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_seal). Question of interest: Do leopard seals also feed on whales, if whales are among Antarctica's top predators ? 15215319

By Remofilwe Kwati (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Personally I’m an atheist and respect all kind of religion but if God was real why was there so many different religions? But due to research dinosaurs lived way before human existed and by the skeleton of an dinosaurs we could see that some of the teeth of different dinosaurs was used for meat purposes so I would say that not all animals were vegetarian long ago.

By Wann-Chyi Wu 1… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Where exactly did you get your information from? as far as what i have read there is no verse in the bible that states that all animals were vegetarians before the fall?.

By Tim Blaker (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Can someone please tell me where can in the bible am i going to get that script saying all animals were vegetarians. And people you will get more confused if you are going to mix science and bible

By musawenkosi ma… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Perhaps you are referring to the verse where God gives Noah permission to begin eating meat? If that is the case then I think that you are on the right track, before then what were humans and animals eating? Vegetables of course! Your statements are valid but they are not completely justified. (Refer to the bible book of GENESIS chapters 1-10.)

@ Joubert Alone 15102522: But this apparently is not the scenario The Genesis describes in any detail. (And Ken Ham wisely refrain from giving any details of purported rapid evolution of carnivory himself.)
@ Tim Blaker: That's an exegesis claimed to be a valid interpretation by (some) Christians, based upon combination of Genesis 1:29-30 (" 29. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.") and Gen 9:3 ("Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."), the latter related to the God's commandement made after the Noah's flood (not immediately after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden - another big can of worms here), while this is being claimed to be a literal reading of the account, it heavily depends on the unspoken assumption that no details were omitted in the Biblical narrative cum the firm yet not-directly-based-upon-the-text conviction that the God's permission to eat meat in Gen 9:3 was meant not only for the Noah and his family to whom it's adressed, but to the rest of the creation too.

Of course, really literal reading of the Bible can get a little weird (even leading to the conclusion that the text was not quite meant to be read literally, perhaps :-))), but this is incommensurable with convoluted claims sometimes made by people claiming they're reading the Bible literally.

"In the beginning God created a prefect world...."

Umm, if it was so perfect why did it all go so wrong. I'll never inderstand how someone can believe such utter nonsense. Oh well, to each his own.

i like to believe that the reason the leopard seal had large fangs that seem capable of killing anything is because of the diversity that is present in the world, God created the world to be varied and beautiful in his own image so the leopard seal having evolved or changed from a "herbivore' to a carnivore has nothing to do with its features or probably adaptation but all about THE CREATION...there might be no concrete proof or bible verses that show that all animals were vegetarians but i believe what Kem says that God never intended for any killing of an animal or life on earth, it was never in his plan hence he created nature(plants and greens) that would keep us surviving and in peace within humans and all animals.

By fortunate (not verified) on 16 Apr 2015 #permalink

i disagree with the opinion that says all animals was herbivore because even inthe bible the is no verse that shows animal were carnivore.Lets look at book of in the bible were john was thrown in the cave of lion the people who throw him were expecting lion to eat him which shows that some animal were carnivore inthe bible.the fact that sea leopard is carnivore it is for balance in ecology

By rolindela pern… (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink


By rolindela pern… (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink

While Ham's literal biblical interpretations are clearly ridiculous, it is true that leopard seals are known to filter-feed. Their teeth lock together in a way that allows them to sieve krill from the water.
See http://www.eol.org/pages/328637/overview

@Remofilwe Kwati, leopard seals aren't large enough to prey on full-grown whales, and killer whales occasionally hunt leopard seal pups.

“In the beginning God created a prefect world….”

Perhaps it was a Ford Prefect world, which would explain a long way...

"but i believe what Kem says that God never intended for any killing of an animal"
Then there's rather difficult to explain why the God had created some animals so well adapted for killing other animals, and so poorly for eating plant, and how exactly the animals more suited for eating flesh did cope with the (supposed) all-herbivore world.
"or life on earth, it was never in his plan hence he created nature(plants and greens)"
Well, the English is not my first language, and I'm not a biologist, but as far as I know, plants are generally counted among the living organisms? (Life being one part of the nature, alongside the 'inanimate world'?) And as AnswersInGenitals had already pointed out: ' 'Doesn’t eating a plant tend to kill it? Herbivores really are a murderous lot!'.

'[O]therwise they'd just be picking on the chicken' as Kryten had said.

"as far as I know, plants are generally counted among the living organisms."

Well it depends on the creationist you have the patience to painfully listen to. The most clueless would tell plants are not alive and that flowering plants outran cycads and ferns to end up higher up in the il record during the great flood fairytale. Those at the other end ot the creationist continuum have learned to slap a little lipstick on this pig.

In the Bible it states that God took seven days to create the heavens and the earth, animals were created on the 5th day and mankind only on the 6th day . These "days" are not necessarily the days we know as today, they could be thousands of our "days" ,even millions ,and since evidence from fossils tell us that there were dinosaurs that were carnivores ,how can we assume that all animals were vegetarians before sin. Animals were on earth before mankind by 1 day in the Bible, which is possibly thousands of years before humans . Is it really logical to assume that one day some animals decided to start eating flesh ? What about herbivores? Why did antelope not evolve to have canines designed to tear flesh but in order for a leopard seal to survive it did? Animals can eat meat and still live in "peace", its called the natural cycle of life.

Ken Ham has never been successful in defending creation story against the scientific explanation of the universe. There are many of his videos on youtube, but his debate against Bill Nye is a good example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI. Bill was giving scientific evidences but Ken would keep asking him "show me the evidence?"

By Chiangjieh ARM… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2015 #permalink

I think science and religion are two VERY different beliefs. Religion is based on faith while science requires evidences.

If you try to cook science and religion in the same pot they will never get cooked.

According to the bible I don't think That it is written that animals also sin. It seems that ken ham doesn't know what he is talking about. On the other hand science has evidence to support its claims. Ken Ham is illiterate as usual.

By Sinon mohavia(… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2015 #permalink

Nonsense from Ken Ham again. The reasonable explanation remains to be natural selection.

Animals will never sin what ken is saying is not realistic. Mayb he speaks about another world which doesn't exist

Ken's observations and assumptions are inadequate when relating then to the title of his documentary, and in that sense; I agree with PZ Myers. Although I believe that religion shouldn't become a part of certain topics - such as this one - as many people find religion's role in the said topic debatable - as Andrew did.

By Jadene Jacobs (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink

I believe that the topic of religion is a very touchy subject - Thus i agree with both Jadene Jacobs (15008152) and and Andrew.

By Nehan Krause (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink

It seems as if the leopard seal was designed and built for meat eating - indicated by it's sharp, carnivorous teeth.

It is possible that the seals teeth might have evolved over time from the teeth of a herbivorous animal to a carnivorous one. This evolution is possible and can also be seen in the evolution of hominids. in the past they had larger canines to accommodate the type of diet they had, a change in muscles in the cranium also shows that they probably ate very tough meat. but with modern humans our canines are smaller because we now cook our meet and it is no longer too tough. I however do not the think the evolution of the seal was brought about by the fall.

By u15084656 (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink

if there was evolution I think of was independent of the fall. science and religion have had differences for many years and often contradict one another. I do not think it would be correct to link the two in the case of the seals

if carnivores evolved only after the fall then there would be imbalance and there would be shortage in food supply if all animals ate greens.

Even though i don't neccessarily agree with this theory. I can definitely see why others could believe in it as fact and it is a fascinating way of looking at the world.

By Pozisa-15147462 (not verified) on 19 Apr 2015 #permalink

This is to be expected from Ken Ham. His absolute belief in creationism and the bible blinds him to any other point of view.

Why is anyone giving any consideration to this deluded charlatan Ham?
Hebrew mythology from before the time of the Roman Empire will NOT provide any useful explanation of the natural world, period.

I'm personally loving reading all the comments from people that actually believe what Ken Ham says is true. I dont have to follow links to find the crazies.. they post comments right here for all to read!

By NinjaNoel (not verified) on 22 Apr 2015 #permalink

My aplogies for that idiot Ken Ham - he is a shame to all Australians. Most of us love our Sunburned Country and it's inspiring geology. Black Sheep.