Other than people, the platypus might be the weirdest animal on Earth. When this creature was first found, it was hard to believe one animal had this strange mix of body parts. It is a furry mammal, but has duck-like feet, and is one of only two mammals that lay eggs. And now to top it off, we’ve learned that platypuses glow in the dark! The platypus’ fur has “fluorescence,” which means if you shine one color light on it, it gives off a different color glow. Under black light, a platypus glows blue-green, as the picture shows. And why does it glow? Scientists don’t know, and we bet the platypuses don’t either.
Wee ones: The platypus usually lays 2 eggs, while another animal, the emperor penguin, lays 1 egg. Which animal lays more?
Little kids: Flying squirrels also fluoresce – bright pink! If you spy 8 pink flying squirrels in a tree but then 3 fly off, how many are still in the tree? Bonus: If flying squirrels act as flashlights for ground squirrels, and each flying squirrel can lead 5 ground squirrels, how many flying squirrel flashlights do 10 ground squirrels need?
Big kids: Platypuses dig super-long tunnels called burrows. If a 2-foot long platypus makes a burrow that’s 30 times as long as she is, how long is that burrow? Bonus: How many 1 1/2-foot platypuses could line up end to end in that tunnel?
Wee ones: The platypus lays more, because 2 is more than 1.
Little kids: 5 squirrels are still in the tree. Bonus: 2 flying squirrel flashlights for 10 ground squirrels, because 10 / 5 = 2.
Big kids: 60 feet long. Bonus: 40 platypuses that length. You’re dividing 60 feet by 1 1/2 feet. 1 1/2 = 3/2, and 60 / 3/2 = 60 x 2/3 = 40.
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.