Our friend Alexis V. asked us for some dinosaur math — and if you look under your feet, you just might find some! Scientists in Scotland found a big patch of dinosaur footprints from 161 million years ago. The holes in the ground were “fossilized,” meaning they had turned to rock, so they never changed shape. The scientists think the tracks were made by Cetiosaurus, a dinosaur about 50 feet long, with its tail more than half that length. Just to understand how huge they were: look at your thigh, the part of your leg from your hip to your knee. That same leg bone on Cetiosaurus was 6 feet tall! and the whole animal weighed more than 12 tons, as much as 2-3 elephants put together. We don’t have dinosaurs thrashing around on Earth anymore, but as we find more of these fossils, we can learn more and more about them.
Wee ones: If you see 9 dinosaur footprints, what numbers do you say to count them?
Little kids: How much taller than you would a dinosaur’s 6-foot leg bone be? (You can round your height to the nearest foot.) Bonus: How many Cetiosauri with all 4 feet on the ground could have filled 12 of those footprints?
Big kids: If that dinosaur is 50 feet long, and half of that length is its tail, how long is its tail? Bonus: Who weighs more, a 12-ton Cetiosaurus or a 20,000-pound truck? (Hint if needed: A ton equals 2,000 pounds.)
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ,9.
Little kids: Different for everyone…subtract your height in feet from 6. Bonus: 3 Cetiosauri.
Big kids: 25 feet. Bonus: The Cetiosaurus, since it weighed 24,000 pounds!
And thank you also to Alexis’ brother Nathan for the awesome dinosaur drawing!
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.