Jaws vs. Claws

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Jaws vs. Claws

September 22, 2014

If you had to choose between running into a crocodile or a shark, you’d have a tough decision, since you probably don’t want to mess with either one. But what happens when those two animals bump into each other? In Australia this month, a hiker and his family had been feeding crocs all afternoon, by holding out a pole over the water with buffalo meat strapped to it. One of the crocs, Brutus, is fairly famous in the area: he’s about 80 years old, stretches 18 feet long and is missing a lot of teeth. They saw Brutus come out of the water with a huge fish tail hanging out of his mouth…then saw that it was actually a bull shark he’d caught! Brutus won the battle and had a tasty dinner, but who should have won, the croc or the shark? Which one is bigger? Which one has more teeth? Read on and do the math to find out!

Wee ones: Who’s longer, 18-foot Brutus or your neighbor’s 15-foot car?

Little kids: Brutus is 18 feet long, while bull sharks can grow to 11 feet. How much longer is Brutus than a big bull shark?  Bonus: If you laid them end to end, how long would that jaw-and-claw chain be?

Big kids: Bull sharks and crocs both have between 60 and 80 teeth, which they lose and grow back continuously. If the shark had 80 teeth and Brutus had just 3/4 as many since he’s old and he’s lost some, how many teeth would Brutus have?  Bonus: If a croc replaces its 80 teeth 50 times, how many teeth will Brutus use up in a lifetime? (Hint if needed: multiplying by 50 is like multiplying by 5, then by 10.)




Wee ones: Brutus at 18 feet.

Little kids: 7 feet longer.  Bonus: 29 feet.

Big kids: 60 teeth.  Bonus: 4,000 teeth!

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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