Black bears show counting skills on computers

*Black bears have demonstrated counting abilities, in a first for the species.

Three captive bears took a series of number-based tests on a touch-screen computer, research published in the journal Animal Behaviour showed.

They had to choose between two different-sized sets of dots and were rewarded with food for correct answers.

“People don’t generally understand them to be as intelligent as they probably are,” said Jennifer Vonk, the researcher who led the study.

Although bears have the largest relative brain size of any carnivore, their cognition is not well understood*

BBC Link.

What next, painting penguins?:smiley:

I hope not, their art would be nasty.



And then there were none. :cool:

Bears demonstrate intelligence in the wild. Cubs are learn to hunt and survive from their mothers. Most North American bears are solitary creatures and will avoid confrontation. But they have big claws, jaws, and an attitude, and if you startle them, or piss them off, they’ll pick their teeth with your bones (that’s a figurative description of what happens). Even the more social brown bears have the problem of their hair trigger anger and panic attacks, and terretorial nature, making social cooperation difficult. Considering the wide variety of methods they use to hunt and gather, the large area they prowl in search of food, and the hunger of a huge active animal, I’d assume they’d need a fair amount of intelligence to survive. The jokes above are relevant though. Giving bears an intelligence test has to be difficult, dangerous, and the results hard to interpret. Bear trainers are probably the best judge of bear intelligence. If they respond well to incentives like tasty food, they probably have the desire to learn and could display the kind of intelligence found in dogs and horses, before they sharpen their claws on your carcass.

And if you’re a rabbit, whatever the bear asks, just say ‘Yes’.

I have heard that the intelligence of black bears is a problem at campgrounds in California (there have not been any brown bears in the wild in CA since the 1920s). They supposedly have to periodically change the devices that make the bear-proof boxes (where you’re supposed to store your food and anything that might smell like food to a bear) bear-proof, as the bears figure out how to get into them after a while.

All I can think of is some cartoon I saw ages ago where the bear was using the bunny as toilet paper. :stuck_out_tongue:

Makes those toilet paper commercials with the bears more amusing. :smiley:

This is groundbreaking research – up until now, bears have had to make do with keyboards and mice. The cordless mice work ok, until the batteries die, but it’s hard to replace AAs with claws.

It kind of sucks that bears have better computers than I do.

I’m disappointed that none of the three photos in the BBC story shows the bear using the computer.

I think you mean grizzly bear, not brown. The historic range map on wiki is sad.

No, the range of Ursus arctos, the brown bear, no longer includes California. Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bears, Ursus arctos horribilis. California golden bears may have been a separate subspecies, but are now extinct. The bears they told us to worry about in campgrounds in California were American black bears, not brown bears.

Yeah, well, when you start shitting in the woods, we’ll talk.

I think those three were just smarter than the average bear. Was one wearing a porkpie hat and a vest? And carrying a pic-a-nic basket?

Er… I own a farm… you don’t think I drive 1/2 mile back to the front side just to use the facilities, do you?

Don’t tell Stephen Colbert about this.