Bears are impressive creatures that a lot of people find fascinating. They are usually depicted either as big and scary or cute and cuddly. Numerous movies for kids have used bears as characters – both as animals to be scared of or as human-like characters.
Despite the intrigue surrounding bears, not a lot of people know them well. Here are some fun facts to make them even more interesting.
There are eight bear species in the world.
Courtesy of Pixabay
Most people only know two to four bear species, but there are actually eight. Aside from the more popular North American black bears, brown bears, polar bears, and panda bears, other bear species are the Asiatic black bears (also known as moon bears), Andean bears, sloth bears, and sun bears.
Each of these bear species has distinct characteristics, colors, and markings, and they have their own locations in the world.
Bears can walk on their hind legs.
Courtesy of Outsider
Ever wonder why bears seem to be a favorite human-like character in movies? This is because bears can walk on their hind legs – making them look like humans walking on legs. Although they can do this only for short distances whenever they need to get a better view or scent, it’s enough to earn places in popular movies like Brother Bear, Paddington, and Kung Fu Panda. If you are running out of movies to watch with your child, here’s a list of bear movies for kids to help you.
Bears have high IQs.
Courtesy of Azote Library
Many wildlife experts consider bears as one of the most intelligent land animals. Their intelligence is said to be similar to those of higher primates such as great apes. Some biologists even claim that they have IQs equivalent to a 3-year-old human.
This is physically evident with their brains being the largest and most complex compared to other land animals their size. Out on the field, this intelligence is observed in many bear behaviors. Some bears have learned how to camouflage their scent by rolling around in rotting flesh before sneaking up on their prey. They have been observed to hide behind rocks and trees or to cover their tracks to avoid detection by hunters. Many bears also remember locations where they’ve found food even after ten years.
Bears are big and strong – and fast!
Courtesy of 358611
While bears are known for their size and strength, they are sometimes thought of as sluggish and slow. This cannot be far from the truth. It will not be a surprise to know that grizzly bears have a biting force that can crush a bowling ball or an iron skillet, but it is amazing to know that they can also run up to 40 miles per hour.
Black bears are not always black.
Courtesy of North American Bear Center
Although their name indicates ‘black’, black bears do not come strictly in black. Some of the shades they come in aside from black are brown, cinnamon, blue-gray, blond, and sometimes, even white. The shade usually depends on where the bear is located. Lighter-colored black bears are more common in the western United States because it allows them to blend in with the open meadows. In the northeast United States, it is more common for black bears to be black because the melanin in their fur makes them more resistant to abrasion in the brushy understory of eastern forests. These black bears may turn light to dark brown because of the bleaching by the sun.
There are now “grolar” and “pizzly” bears.
Courtesy of Polarjournal
Because of climate changes and habitat destruction, brown bears and polar bears now sometimes wander into each other territories. This results in mating between the different types of bears and hybrid offspring that are called “grolar” or “pizzly” bears.
Brown bears are the most common and widespread.
Courtesy of WWF
This species of bear is native to more parts of the world than any other bear species. Brown bears can be found in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Despite their population being shrunk dramatically over the previous decades, brown bears are still the most widely distributed among other bears.
Panda bears have an extra bone for eating.
Courtesy of 7103983
One of the most known characteristics of panda bears is their love for munching bamboo. They eat bamboo at least 12 hours a day just to be able to take in adequate nutrition amount. Panda bears have a special anatomical feature that helps them hold on to the bamboo and chomp on them for long hours. They have an elongated wrist bone on each paw and padding on the end. These function similarly to thumbs, helping them hold the bamboo stalks more steadily when eating. However, these are not true thumbs because they cannot use them to grasp things.
Sloth bears use their lips like a vacuum.
Courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Aside from panda bears, another bear species that has an anatomical adaptation to help them eat better is the sloth bear. Aside from fruits and flowers, sloth bears like to eat ants and termites. They use their long lower lips to wrap around the outer edge of their noses to create a suction. This helps them suck up insects like ants and termites.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is unique about bears?
Bears are among the most intelligent land animals in North America. Their very large and complex brain help them to navigate better than humans, have excellent memories, and use tools for playing and hunting.
Are bears friendly?
Bears are not mean or malicious. They are usually shy animals that do not like interacting with humans. Unless there is a food source, bears usually avoid humans.
What are bears known for?
Bears are very gentle and tolerant animals. Some humans think they are mean or malicious, but they are affectionate and protective. Mother bears, in particular, are very attentive, sensitive, and protective of their young.