When Elephants Were Furry

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.

When Elephants Were Furry

October 28, 2017

When you think of furry animals, you probably don’t think of elephants. But take a look at the woolly mammoth, and you might think differently. This huge animal from tens of thousands of years ago had curved tusks and a long trunk, just like its elephant cousins — but it also had wild, thick, 3-foot long shaggy hair all over its body. We’re guessing that that hairstyle did NOT smell good, but it helped the woolly mammoth live in extremely cold temperatures. And let’s not forget their giant tusks, which could grow up to 16 feet long — maybe longer than your whole bedroom! While woolly mammoths don’t live today, some scientists think we could use their leftover frozen bones to bring new mammoths to life, maybe even in the next 10 years. So as crazy as that idea might be, we may have furry elephants again after all.

Wee ones: Who weighs less, an 8-ton mammoth or a 5-ton elephant?

Little kids: Both girl and boy mammoths had tusks. If you had one boy and one girl, how many tusks did they have together?  Bonus: Regular African elephants’ tusks reach “only” 10 feet. How much longer were the mammoth’s 16-foot tusks?

Big kids: Mammoths went extinct (died out) about 5 thousand years ago. How do you “spell” 5 thousand as a number?  Bonus: The woolly mammoth’s hair was about 3 feet long. How does that stack up against your height in inches? (Reminder if needed: A foot has 12 inches.)




Wee ones: The elephant.

Little kids: 4 tusks.  Bonus: 6 feet longer.

Big kids: 5,000.  Bonus: Different for everyone…subtract 36 from your height in inches, or subtract your height from 36 if your height is less.

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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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