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The Big Dude’s Bones

An investigation inspired by “The Worst” [p.130, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein].

The Glurpy Slurpy Skakagrall (the Big Dude) weighs 3000 pounds and is 9 feet tall. He’d be a star in professional football, but according to a formula created by Doctor Greg Erickson (see resources below), this Big Dude would need 23.3% of that weight to be bone in order to support its body under the strain of earth’s gravity.

1. How much would the Big Dude’s bones weigh? _______________

2. Let’s compare the Skakagrall to a 9-foot tall cylinder full of 3000 pounds of water. Water weighs 62.5 pounds per cubic foot. What is the diameter of the cylinder? Do you think the Big Dude is wider than that? State your reason(s) why or why not.

3. Let’s compare the Big Dude to an elephant. Find the weight of a typical full-grown elephant. Which is heavier, and what is your source for that information. Dr. Erickson states that an elephant would need 27% of its weight to be bones. How much weight is that?

4. The dinosaur T-rex and the elephant are two of the biggest animals to have walked on the Earth. One a reptile and the other a mammal, they seem to represent a limit of how large animals can be that roam the Earth, and yet the blue whale at 195 tons needs less than 10% of its weight to be bones. How many pounds of bones is that?

5. Give a reason why the blue whale survives with such relatively small bones.

Resources:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/viewing/3209_02_nsn.html

http://microlnx.com/dinosaurs/SkeletalScaling.html

Solution

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