Warning: This sounds like one you've heard before but it's not.

A hunter leaves his camp and heads one mile north. Scanning the horizon for prey, he spots a likely spot to the east. He walks for a half mile before spotting movement further east. He sprints the half mile only to find that whatever was there is gone. Downtrodden, he walks the one mile south back to camp. Opening the door of the hut, he begins to call out for his partner when he sees it: A live bear in the hut! Thinking quickly, he pulls out his rifle and shoots it dead. Hearing the gunshot, his partner emerges from the other room. "Hey!" he shouts, "I just captured that bear outside and brought it in here to study!" Sheepishly, the hunter admits that he probably reacted too hastily.

How many legs did the bear have?

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    $\begingroup$ Um, four? Have you ever seen a bear that doesn't have four legs? $\endgroup$ – mmking May 13 '15 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ 4? like any normal bear? $\endgroup$ – Vincent May 13 '15 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ Hm, 1km north then 1 Mile east -> 1 Mile south won't get you back to the camp, so he must went to Yogi bear's home and shoot him dead, you bad hunter! $\endgroup$ – Alex May 13 '15 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure if I like this question given the accepted answer. As Geobits said, shooting a water bear with a rifle is unrealistic. And the stuff about where the hunter walks is completely irrelevant, right? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor May 13 '15 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ The walking part does NOT limit it to the south pole! He could be a short distance away from the north pole. I Googled to find a reference here; there's also a very good discussion of the bear problem in one of Martin Gardner's books. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor May 13 '15 at 14:49

The answer is

The bear has 8 legs... it is a water bear.

I don't know why he would shoot it but I would be embarrassed too.

The camp is a short distance north of the south pole. He walks north, walks around the pole, and then goes past the south pole on his way back to camp. This accounts for the distance difference which can only really happen there. Polar bears don't live at the south pole. Neither do Siberian water bears (which would be a silly guess).

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    $\begingroup$ He must have good eyes and a steady hand to spot and shoot something ~1mm in size with a rifle :) $\endgroup$ – Set Big O May 13 '15 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Geobits i agree but it is the only type of bear i could come up with that has more or less than 4 legs naturally. Thought koala but they do too. $\endgroup$ – kaine May 13 '15 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ Tardigrades are legitimately terrifying in their unyielding to the elements. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast May 13 '15 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ Why six and not eight? See EngineerToast's link. $\endgroup$ – JLee May 13 '15 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee You're right and I ticked too quickly. I read "water bear" and I didn't process that it should be 8. Man, I am really bad at this. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast May 13 '15 at 14:48

The bear has:

zero legs.

If I'm a hunter, that's the only way I would sheepishly admit that an unknown live bear inside our hut was not something worth shooting. Bears are godless killing machines, and even more dangerous in small areas.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Godless klling machines: wildnatureimages.com/Grizzly_Bear_Cubs.htm $\endgroup$ – kaine May 13 '15 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @kaine Pro tip: Don't surprise a hunter by placing wild animals in his hut, even cuddly ones ;) $\endgroup$ – Set Big O May 13 '15 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ Even with no legs, a regular bear could wiggle over and bite you like a 43 stone worm with razor teeth. If it got really mad, it might shoot chainsaw-wielding wasps from it maw, covering you in a swarm of pain and tears. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast May 13 '15 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @EngineerToast Agreed, but it would give me a bit more time before I die to shoot it. Not much, but a chance. Then again, maybe a one-legged bear would be a bit slower, since he might try hopping instead of worming. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O May 13 '15 at 14:46

Some possibilities:

It couldn't be the Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber, because that wouldn't fit in the hut.

Of course, it also depends what you mean by 'hut'. If the 'hut' is the Helsinki (or Hanoi) University of Technology, then it would be easily big enough for the strategic bomber.

And 'legs' is also a little bit ambiguous....

OK, I'm going to interpret the question to mean:

How many copies of the classic soft-rock single "Legs", by ZZ Top, can you fit inside a Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber ('Bear') on the campus of the Helsinki University of Technology ('HUT')?

So then the answer is clearly 35,000, and you get 35,000 copies of the B-side ("A Fool for Your Stockings") into the bargain.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You don't know how big the hut is. The bomber might fit. What about a Chicago Bear? How about a masculine homosexual man? I, too, can read the disambiguation page on Wikipedia. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast May 13 '15 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Was the polar bear transported by the Dharma Initiative? $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald May 13 '15 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ I have no proof of such, but I would suppose it would be theoretically possible for a water bear to have an extra leg or two due to some sort of genetic mutation.. $\endgroup$ – Warlord 099 May 13 '15 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for hilarity (especially the share-price and non-integer parts). Welcome to the Trusted User club! $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor May 13 '15 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @EngineerToast, you're right of course. I've updated my answer. $\endgroup$ – A E May 14 '15 at 7:52

I'm still going to go with

Four. It's still the same gorram polar bear from the other puzzle. About time someone put an end to its shenanigans.


The camp is a bit more than a mile away from the north pole. (The distance has an exact value somewhere in the vicinity of 1.16 miles; figuring it out is left as an exercise for the reader.)

This works, because

The hunter goes one mile north, then one mile east (walking/running a full circle around the north pole, at a distance of about 0.16 miles), and then one mile south to get back to the camp.

There are other possible positions for the camp, too, but

going around the north pole twice or more does not seem likely, given how the story is presented. Circling the pole once seems perfectly plausible, though; or at least much more so than a sudden tardigrade-slaughtering rampage.


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