Before the fall of man, did lions and tigers and other sharp-toothed animals have the flesh eating type of teeth? After looking at their teeth structure it seems that their teeth would have a terrible design to eat only plants and herbs. I know the bible doesn't address this but I was wondering how this can be explained if one's theology leaves animals with carnivorous teeth, but no desire to eat carnivorously.

  • Here's a related question. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 13:01
  • Welcome! It sounds like you want answers that describe the young-earth creationist viewpoint, since others (like old-earth creationists) believe that carnivorous animals have always been carnivorous, even before the Fall. It would be helpful if you edit your question to make this clear. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 13:19
  • How someone might answer this may greatly depend on the Tradition-perspective you're asking from (or about). For instance, a Christian who believes that God created in 7 literal days may have a different explanation than a Catholic Christian, who is open to believing even in a kind of theistic evolution. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 13:20
  • well, obviously they didn't need to eat if they were immortal. They only ate for pleasure. I guess our bodies might have had the ability to get energy from different sources, sun other physical subatomic particles. Eating doesn't make sense if you are immortal. So asking for the meaning of appearance is irrelevant or how the specific part of the body looked doesn't make sense or it doesn't reflect our current state of being.
    – Grasper
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 21:15

3 Answers 3


The explanation is quite simple. They had the same teeth, but they ate plants. Whether they struggled to eat plants is another question and mostly opinion based.

Generally, Young Earth Creationists when challenged with this point, will note that there are examples of animals with carnivorous teeth, yet they are herbivorous.

The most common example is the Panda Bear. The Panda clearly has very sharp, carnivorous teeth. But anyone who knows a little about the species knows that it is fully herbivorous and consumes almost exclusively bamboo. Consider this article from Answers in Genesis for reference.

There are other examples often given as well, including fruit bats, crocodiles and piranha.

They will sometimes point to curious cases, like a lion eating only vegetables throughout its life, yet being in full health and living an average lifespan.

As a final reference, consider this very typical YEC theology regarding the "impossibility" that death existed before the fall. In my opinion, this is the driving force for YEC's to keep their ground and literal interpretation of Genesis' creation story. If there was death before the fall, then the whole of Christianity no longer makes sense or has any value.

The Bible itself seems to be quite silent on the issue, save for Genesis 1:30, where God gives all the animals "every green plant for food". However, regarding what humans may or did eat is discussed quite a bit. See: What does the Bible say about vegetarian diets?

  • 1
    I know all my links are AiG, but they are generally pretty representative of the science that YEC's turn to to justify their beliefs.
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 22:54

As a 'Young Earth' creationist, the question of Lions having teeth doesn't really make a lot of sense.

We don't believe there were any Lions or Tigers as we know them today, only big cats. Those big cats contained the genetic information for sharp teeth, not so sharp teeth, and all the way in between (just like your parents have the genetic information for you and your siblings).

A similar example (and possibly easier to explain/understand) is Darwin's Galapagos Finches. You can read more about them here, but the general idea is that the finches had the genetic information for long beaks, and short beaks. Via Natural Selection (an observable and non-evolutionary process) the finches with more appropriate beaks were more successful.

Applying this to the big cats of Genesis, they contained the genetic information for various different teeth, and over a few generations would be more suited to their environment.

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    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for offering an answer. For some tips on writing good answers here, see: What makes a good supported answer? Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 21:14
  • Thanks for your answer! Do any YEC publications take this view? Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 21:41
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    For other readers to understand better, I would like to note that creationists have a dichotomy for evolution that biologists do not. To biologists, the natural selection of the Galapagos finches is certainly evolution. Creationists however take exception to the fact that the word evolution implies that man was not created but came from lesser species. So creationists have created a dichotomy that separates small variations such as those finches from massive speciation, such as lesser primates to human. The actual words used vary, but the dichotomy is the same among all of them.
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 18:14

Before the fall of man, did lions and tigers and other sharp-toothed animals have the flesh eating type of teeth? After looking at their teeth structure it seems that their teeth would have a terrible design to eat only plants and herbs.

The question is fair but should not be limited to animals. Adam and Eve had teeth as well, including incisors, but God gave them everything in the garden (minus the fruit of just one tree!) to eat. No meat yet.

So as was pointed out above, the presence of cutting/tearing teeth do not necessarily indicate, much less demand, a diet of flesh.

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    This should probably be a comment rather than an answer. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 14:28

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