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Can bears count as well as primates ?

Posted on Monday, 3 September, 2012 | Comment icon 17 comments

Image credit: US Fish and Wildlife

New research suggests that black bears are surprisingly adept at performing numerical calculations.

When it comes to animals with advanced cognitive abilities bears are perhaps not the species you first think of. Surprisingly, black bears actually possess the largest relative brain size of any carnivore, a trait that has intrigued researchers and prompted several experiments aimed at determining the extent of their cognitive capabilities.

In one experiment, bears were shown two images with different numbers of dots. Touching one of the images would reward the animal with some food and provide it with an incentive to remember how many dots there were in the correct image. When the images were changed with different backgrounds and positions the bears were still able to recognize the correct one by counting the dots and identifying the image with the correct number.

"The new research shows for the first time that "bears and other animals that have been neglected by cognitive scientists ."

  View: Full article |  Source: National Geographic

  Discuss: View comments (17)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Junior Chubb on 3 September, 2012, 23:44
They're 'bear' clever ya know, innit...
Comment icon #9 Posted by Likely Guy on 4 September, 2012, 0:46
http://www.outdoorsm...k_Bear_Hunting/ They slaughter these animals,for prizes and trophies. I would rather they shot one another,and saved the world from them reproducing,and making stupid offspring. Sorry ,but I hate people who do this . I also have a huge problem with trophy hunting. Don't kill it if you aren't going to eat it. Back to the cleverness and adaptability of bears. I had to take a 'Bear Aware' course for work a while back and I saw two amazing pieces of video. The first was a young black bear sow that somehow lost both front legs when it was young. It solved that problem by simp... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Ambush Bug on 4 September, 2012, 2:25
I am in awe of and admire the power and beauty of bears. Now, I learn they can count?! Awesome!
Comment icon #11 Posted by QuiteContrary on 4 September, 2012, 3:12
Casey Anthony (friend of Brutus the Grizzly) said brown bears were second? or third? in animal intelligence. About shooting bears. The real lazy hunters bait them with donuts and then shoot at them like fish in a barrel. Even the small "dog" bears. Just to claim they bagged a bear.
Comment icon #12 Posted by 3.0 on 4 September, 2012, 3:19
One Bee, Oww; two Bee Oww...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Abramelin on 4 September, 2012, 6:57
Counting Crows: A farmer in England found that every day he went in his blind in the field, the crows would stay away. But once he had left, they would fly into the fields and feed. He brought a friend with him one day to follow him into the blind, thinking the crows would spot one of them leaving and then come down to eat at the crops, thinking that no one was watching. But the crows knew that a second man was still in the blind. The next day they tried it with another man, then another. The crows counted and subtracted. They knew that someone was still waiting for them in the blind. It was o... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by CRIPTIC CHAMELEON on 4 September, 2012, 10:53
They're 'bear' clever ya know, innit... Oh God I can't bear it anymore.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Eldorado on 4 September, 2012, 12:03
I am in awe of and admire the power and beauty of bears. Now, I learn they can count?! Awesome! They are artistic too...
Comment icon #16 Posted by Eldorado on 5 September, 2012, 14:20
Counting Crows: This is interesting, in my opinion..... "Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he's come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human. http://www.ted.com/talks/joshua_klein_on_the_intelligence_of_crows.html
Comment icon #17 Posted by Hilander on 6 September, 2012, 0:48
A lot of animals have been proven to be smarter than we have given them credit for. I've always said just because you can't speak the human language doesn't make you stupid. Unless you want to say man is stupid because we don't speak animal language.

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