What is the Torah view on the dinosaurs? There's no mention of them in the Torah, only that the world was created in 6 days.

You'd think the existence of a former world of huge alien creatures would have some sort of mention in midrashim, etc. and some sort of purpose in G-d's plan. How do we view this from a torah pespective?

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    I don't understand the argument of "There's no mention of them in the Torah, only that the world was created in 6 days. If they existed, Adam and his descendants should have seen them. Yet there's no mention.". There's no mention of mosquitoes or zebras either. So what?
    – msh210
    Oct 12 '12 at 8:12
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    I don't think that the medrash which says the earlier worlds were destroyed means that no trace of them can exist.
    – rosends
    Oct 12 '12 at 12:34
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    I heard that the Tiferes Yisrael addresses this in his "Drush Or HaChayim" (printed in the back of standard Tiferes Yisrael editions of mishnah Nezikin vol. 1), but I never actually read all of it (but I did see a few lines of it, and they include references to animals such as טערודעקטיילס and סטגאסאורוס)
    – b a
    Oct 12 '12 at 16:29
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    @ray First of all, consider clarifying all this in your question itself, and be careful whether you are asking about the Torah, or the Midrash. I don't think the Midrash would mention dinosaurs, since I doubt Hazal knew about them. To keep things in perspective, there are currently around 8.7 million species on Earth. Many of these are very exotic and differ in many ways from the organisms we are used to and indeed, are quite alien. Nevertheless, the vast vast majority of them are not mentioned by the Torah, or even by Hazal.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 14 '16 at 5:57

Prof. Nathan Aviezer wrote a book "בראשית ברא" answering questions about the creation in torah view.

There he claims the 6 days of creation to be 6 periods of time that didn't necessarily last 24 hours. Moreover - maybe it was one cycle of dark&light, but things happened at a quicker pace.

Take, for example, a person's growth. If you were to calculate the rate of growth during his first two years, you would conclude that at the age of 20 he'd be as tall as a skyscraper. Similarly, scientists calculate age of things according to he worlds' pace today, but things may have worked differently in the past.

Hence, dinosaurs might have lived and died prior to Adam Harishon. Maybe created on "day" 5 and extinct before 6.

(Somewhat related: What is the meaning of יוֹם (yowm) in Bereshit?)

The Malbim (on Noach 7:23) addresses "large animals" that couldn't be "wiped out" by the flood, but were buried in depths of the earth following quakes the Mabul created. He is clearly addressing dinosaurs since he's talking about (my free translation): "... geologists who dig and find large animals who have become extinct, they use this to show earth existed long before Bereshis creation..."

Some attribute "התנינים הגדולים" (Bereshis 1:21) to the dinosaurs as a reference of their existing (not mentioned in Malbim).

Another opinion I've heard from reliable people (suggested by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in this letter) is that the world was created "old", such as Adam Harishon was created as a man of 20 and not a newborn baby. Hence, dinosaurs could have either existed - or their remains and footprints were melded into the creation.

  • Malbim on that pasuk just says "there are some fish that are really big" and doesn't seem to be talking about dinosaurs
    – b a
    Oct 12 '12 at 16:26
  • @ba, it's Malbim on Noach - I edited it in.
    – JNF
    Oct 14 '12 at 6:26
  • @RaymondSebag, as the answer notes, Hashem might have done millions of years within 24 hours. Shabbos was completion of work not necessarily a day in itself. Further, "days" might have not been equal in time (the way we define it) so maybe when Shabbos arrived it really was one day. P.S. World's birthday = Elul 25th
    – JNF
    Oct 14 '12 at 10:32
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    @RaymondSebag And does the fact that we have dinosaur bones that appear millions of years old not qualify as Shaat HaDechak?
    – Double AA
    Dec 3 '12 at 7:44
  • I would have to disagree with the first point mentioned, that the six "days" were NOT 24 hours, for indeed they were, and the Rebbe would address this numerously in various letters (and of course before him, many official Chassidic discourses address clearly each day, and of course before then, the entire Gemara / Rishonim etc. all talk about 6 literal days, and these people, BTW, do NOT make any mistakes at all ever)
    – user8832
    Oct 16 '18 at 4:53

In the sefer "Q&A Thursday Nights With Rabbi Avigdor Miller" Volume 2, pg 284, he was asked why were the dinosaurs and the mastodon not saved from the mabul? He answered simply because there was no room for them on the teivah (ark) .He said that all species fit but the extra big ones simply didn't fit.

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    So he holds that the mabul happened 60 million years ago?
    – Double AA
    Jul 19 '13 at 21:28
  • @Doubleaa , where did you extrapolate that from?
    – sam
    Jul 21 '13 at 2:14
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    It seems he thinks they were still alive just preceding the flood.
    – Double AA
    Jul 21 '13 at 3:34
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    @doubleaa , and why 60 million years why not regular years
    – sam
    Jul 21 '13 at 4:16
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    @HachamGabriel What does creating the world "adult like" have to do with their living together. You can tell me the bones were created in the ground, but that is not saying they were alive at the same time.
    – Double AA
    Jul 22 '13 at 6:49

Taninim Hagedolim can possibly mean dinosaurs. The word Tanin means a reptile or serpent (like when Aharon's stick become a sepent - Vayehi l'tanin. The dinosaurs were reptiles. See Dr. Schroeder's "The Science of G-d" which discusses this.


after reading parts of Michael Denton's Nature's Destiny I would speculate that God has designed every possible form of creature that could possibly exist within the confines of the laws of physics (and the laws of physics need to be almost exactly as they are to support human life as explained there).

Denton says there that there is a limit to the size of an animal due to various factors such as the speed of nerve signal transmission which is determined by the diffusion rate of ions. the current values for these are crucial to life. He explains there that for an animal of 100 meters it would take roughly 4 seconds for certain nerve impulses to travel and that would be way too slow for the animal to be nimble.

So perhaps the dinosaurs were a hashlama (completion) to the possible types of life forms that could exist on earth as part of the perfection of nature. Only that they needed to no co-exist with us for safety reasons.

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    Is Michael Denton the Torah? Is he even Jewish? Why should we care what he thinks?
    – Double AA
    Oct 13 '16 at 21:48
  • @DoubleAA i am trying to explain the purpose of dinosaurs from a torah perspective using our modern knowledge
    – ray
    Oct 13 '16 at 21:50
  • It seems like the info from Denton is totally irrelevant to the answer. Why is the fact that large organisms are in some ways different from smaller organisms relevant to the question of the Torah's perspective of dinosaurs, whether they existed, why they are not mentioned on the Torah, and when they existed?
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 13 '16 at 22:32

To answer your first question: Most people would say that dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Bible. And they would be wrong. Oranges are also not mentioned in the Bible and yet no one would deny an orange for supper. Contrary to popular belief, dinosaurs are mentioned in the Torah, and no, it's not what you think. No, it's not Genesis 1:21's "taninim gedolim", translated as "great sea monsters" and it's not Leviathan, either, which means whale.[1] Rather, the first time we read about dinosaurs is in the beginning, as you would expect.

And G-d said, "Let the waters swarm a swarming of living creatures, and let fowl fly over the earth, across the expanse of the heavens."

On the fifth day, G-d created birds. True, birds do not look like dinosaurs, and dinosaurs do not look like birds, but archaeologists have proven that birds are not only modern descendants of dinosaurs, they are dinosaurs.[2] Dinosaurs are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. A lot of people would laugh at the notion that Noah saved the dinosaurs on the Ark. He did. Noah sent a raven and a dove to look for land.

As to your second question: Even if readers do not like this approach and admit that dinosaurs, as in giant reptiles or Tyrannosaurus are not mentioned in the Torah, we can answer that “the Torah speaks in human language” (Rabbi Ishmael). Because the Torah was given to the generation of emancipated slaves, it could not expect them to understand science and evolutionary biology. As a result, it had to work with the time it was given.

[1] Although some read taneneem to mean crocodiles, snakes, or dragons

[2] As are all reptiles

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