Today From Bedtime Math: That's One Weird-Looking Animal

1 duck-like bill, 1 beaver-like tail, and 0 teeth help your child get to know more about this wild animal in this challenge from Bedtime Math!
By Laura Overdeck
Jun 30, 2015

Ages

3-13


Jun 30, 2015

The poor platypus must feel so confused. It has a duck's bill, a beaver's flat tail, and an otter's feet. It also has no teeth. To top it off, it's a mammal but it lays eggs the way a duck would. What the heck? (And that's not as bad as its cousin, the short-beaked echidna, who has the same weird body plus sharp spines like a porcupine, and a long sticky tongue like an anteater.) The platypus is so weird-looking that when English scientists first found it in Australia, they had to bring a few back to England because no one believed any animal could look like that! The platypus is a great swimmer thanks to its otter and beaver body parts, but once it finds food underwater, it stuffs it all in its mouth and swims up to the surface, where it grinds its meal between its gums. And as we'll see from the math, the platypus eats a lot.

See if you and your kids can come up with the answers to these math problems:

Wee ones: A platypus has 4 otter-like feet. What numbers would you say to count them?
Little kids: A platypus eats 1/2 its own weight every night! If it weighs 4 pounds, how much does it eat?  Bonus: If you had a pet platypus and a pet otter, how many feet would you all have together? (Hint, if needed: They each have 4 feet.)
Big kids: If it eats 1/2 its weight every night, how much does a 4-pound platypus eat in April?  Bonus: If you ate 1/2 your weight every night, how much would you eat in 1 week?
 
Answers:
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Little kids: 2 pounds.  Bonus: 10 feet – don't forget yourself.
Big kids: 60 pounds, since April has 30 days.  Bonus: Different for everyone: take your weight in pounds, cut in half, and then multiply by 7. As an example, a 50-pound kid would eat 175 pounds of food a week!
 

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