Were Dinosaurs Stronger Than Elephants?


“Hi, I am a 3rd grade teacher at a Christian School in NW Indiana.  My students were asking me this week if dinosaurs were stronger than elephants.  I had just run across this site recently, so I thought I would ask you what you know about this topic.  Thanks for giving children the assurance that they can be Christian and love science at the same time.”

ANSWER: 1 Geologist Dr. John Morris (ICR)

“We must keep in mind that some dinosaurs were HUGE, but some were rather ordinary sized. Many were the size of a chicken, and they were not strong or big. A normal adult dinosaur was about the size of a horse. A horse is a big animal to us, but it’s not a giant. And remember, dinosaur were reptiles, not mammals. Reptiles  today, like crocodiles, grow bigger each of year of their lives. The oldest is the biggest.

Remember in Scripture, even people lived for long periods. If reptiles lived for a thousand years they would be huge! But they all started out small, mostly as eggs. Some grew to be large as Behemoth mentioned in Job 40.

Looks like the Bible wins again!

ANSWER 2: Dr. Terry Hurlbut:

The answer to your question, depends on what kind of dinosaurs you’re talking about, and how young (or old) they were at any given time. Creatures like the apatosaur (originally named brontosaur or “thundering lizard,” or behemoth by the Biblical Job) lived to grow to such a size that they could easily defeat any elephant in battle. But I doubt you would say the same for Compsognathus, which even as an adult stood no taller than a chicken.

Incidentally, the Bible does mention dinosaurs, at least twice in the Bible. First, as I mentioned, God offers two of them to Job, as examples of His “pets,” to ask whether Job ever played with animals that size. These were Behemoth (an apatosaur) and Leviathan (a kronosaur, the most fearsome predator that ever swam the oceans of earth). Even earlier: did you know the Hebrew word, rendered cattle or livestock in the Bible, to describe at least some of the land animals God made on the sixth day of Creation? The word is behemah, a singular form of behemoth. The word comes from three Hebrew roots:

Be– in,

He- the, and

Mah– everywhere.

Here’s how that happened. God brought all the animals to Adam, to see what he would name them. So Adam looked at this enormous creature that filled his vision. He looked to his left, and looked to his right, and could still see it! So he spread his hands wide and said, “It’s everywhere!” And that’s what he called it: the in-the-everywhere creature. Behemah, largest of God’s creatures that walked on land.

Calling them “great and mighty reptiles” would be Sir Richard Owen’s idea, in 1842. Like all scientists, Sir Richard looked to the classical languages that all young men learned in those days, to coin the name. He chose it from the Greek deinos fearsome, powerful, or fearfully great, and sauros a lizard or a reptile.

By the way: this is not to say all dinosaurs were predators that would eat everything in sight. The order of dinosaurs included grazers as well as predators. Apatosaurus, believe it or not, was a grazer. One of the most fearsome of the predators in that order was, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex(literally, the King of the Tyrannical Lizards). But if this “king” attacked aTriceratops, he’d have a worthy battle. For that creature had three horns with which he could give a good account of himself against any attacker.

So even in the order of dinosaurs, God made everything in balance. Nor did God mean for these magnificent creatures to perish in the Flood. Noah took young specimens with him in the Ark. Sadly, some of the descendants of Noah eventually hunted these creatures to extinction. Or did they? Reports that reached me from Africa suggested at least some of those creatures might have survived and stayed out of the hunters’ way. Then we hear reports of plesiosaurs living in Scotland’s Loch Ness, Vermont’s Lake Champlain, and other freshwater lakes–reports that might have a grain of truth to them!

ANSWER 3 BS Jay Auxt:

“I guess the answer to that question depends on “which dinosaurs” are you referring to?  Some dinos were the size of chickens.  I doubt that they were nearly as strong as elephants.  J  However, I would gather that the question really pertains to the great big ones.  Some of these dinosaurs are so big that they dwarf elephants!  In those cases, they must be much stronger than elephants just to be able to move all that weight!  Some scientists believe that some of these enormous dinosaurs lived in water in which case the buoyancy would help carry the weight.  But that would not be true of the huge T-Rex who did not live in the water.  Also, consider Behemoth.  He lived on land.

Job 40:15-17  “Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.  He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.”

This animal must have been much larger than an elephant.  An elephant is certainly a very large animal, but nowhere near large enough to move a tail like a cedar tree.

It is important to recognize that these dialogues between Job and God are real dialogues discussing real creatures or events that Job was familiar with.  It would make no sense for God to say, “Consider the….” and then discuss something that Job had never heard of.  Consequently, Job was certainly well aware of this enormous creature!  As we think of animals (living today or extinct) so large that they move their tail like a cedar tree – Wow!  Dinosaurs are the only creatures that can meet that description.  Specifically, the dinosaurs that are much larger and much stronger than elephants!”


ANSWER 4 From Ph.D Nuclear Chemistry Dr. Jay Wile.

“Some dinosaurs were stronger than elephants, but many were not.  When most people think about dinosaurs, they think about big reptiles.  However, most dinosaurs were rather small.  Dilong, for example, was a dinosaur that has the same basic body plan as Tyrannosaurus Rex, but it probably never got taller than 5 feet.  As a result, while Tyrannosaurus Rex was bigger and stronger than an elephant, Dilong was smaller and weaker than an elephant.  Probably the smallest dinosaur was Saltopus, which was about the size of a cat.

If you took all the dinosaur fossils we have right now and calculated the average size of a dinosaur, the result would be about the same size as a German Shepherd dog.  So, while some dinosaurs were much larger and stronger than elephants, most were not.  Here is a drawing that compares some dinosaurs to an elephant.”
ANSWER 5: Bruce Malone (Creation Evanglism)
Train your children to separate speculation from fact.  This is speculation but based on logical assumptions. Large Apatosaurus were at least four times larger than elephants so it is logical to assume they were MUCH stronger!
ANSWER 6 Micro-Specialist BS MS Mark Armitage
“That is actually a great question but it depends on what dinosaur you’re talking about. Most dinosaurs were very small maybe the size of the sheep or a dog. In that instance those dinosaurs would certainly not be stronger than an elephant. But some dinosaurs were very large, for example Triceratops at its most adult stage could stand almost 20 feet tall and could have been upwards of 20 feet long. That dinosaur would be much stronger than an elephant.”
ANSWER 7  Geologist//Professor Dr. Jerry Simmons

“Becky you made this amazing an awesome statement: 

“Thanks for giving children the assurance that they can be Christian and love science at the same time.” 
I am a Christian teacher of 33 years and am in the process of retiring and I can say that your statement is right on.  I was raised in an agnostic/atheistic evolutionary environment and came to Christ 46 years ago. Having been raised on a ranch and farm I always had suspicions that there was a master engineer who had made everything—I was right—His name is Jesus Christ.
In response to the question about the strength of Dinosaurs vs. Elephants I will share some point of interest.
1.  These are two entirely different kinds of animals and therefore their body plan required different muscles for different jobs.  Both animals were large and therefore required a lot of muscle power just to move.  If we took into account the largest muscle in the body of each animal—neck of the elephant and the legs of the dinos I would have to say (my opinion) that the elephant would have the advantage. Elephants also have an incredible trunk that has some 40,000 muscles in it to help it do what it does.  The dinosaurs, to my knowledge did not have anything comparable to this incredible tool trunk.  Again the elephant would have an advantage.  Then we have the large tusks on the male elephant—with the powerful neck muscles and the trunk muscles T-Rex would not have been a match for a big bull elephant.  I have seen some skeletons of big elephants that stood 13 feet tall at their shoulder. This size is near the same as a large T-Rex.
2.  Another major factor is that the brain and thinking capacity of the elephant is way, way above that of the dinosaurs (reptiles).  The brain along with the nervous system that helps operate the muscles would once again give our Mr. Elephant the advantage.
3.  I am not sure as to God’s classification as stated in Genesis where He creates the Beasts of the Field includes the elephants, but I am sure that the dinos were in this group.
Elephants are really the KING of the jungle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have watched videos where a mother elephant in protecting her calf has literal thrown in the air and rolled a large rhinoceros that got to close to the baby elephant
Hope my answer helps!!!
ANSWER 8 BS Frank Sherwin (ICR)

“This question is subjective at best.

First we have to define the relative term ‘stronger’. Ton-for-ton, were dinos stronger than elephants? There’s no way of knowing because we don’t have living dinos today. As to dino strength in and of itself, there are ways of measuring muscle mass (indicating strength) of dinos by looking at sources of attachment of ligaments/tendons to the fossil bones.

The largest dinos known were the long-necked sauropods (e.g. Mamenchisaurus that possibly weighed 50 to 75 tons) that dwarfed elephants. They were obviously stronger than elephants.”