A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘bears

[NEWS] Five science links: global warming, chimpanzees, bears, water in the UK, US high-speed rail

  • Vice interviews David Wallace Wells about his frightening new book, The Uninhabitable Earth.
  • Chimpanzee cultures are being threatened by the effects of global warming, Motherboard reports.
  • At least some bears are apparently capable of mimicking the faces of others, perhaps indicating a high level of intelligence. Motherboard reports.
  • In a mere 25 years, the United Kingdom may face serious water shortages thanks to climate change. (The hypothetical secession of Scotland, meanwhile, would make things even worse for England.) Motherboard reports.
  • This article at Engineering explains the economic and legal factors explaining why the United States, unlike the EU or China, lacks much high-speed passenger rail.

[ISL] Five #islands links: Newfoundland, Ireland, Novaya Zemlya, Pacific Islands, Diego Garcia

  • CBC reports on a Toronto couple who found a better life in a small town in Newfoundland, Twillingate.
  • The Irish Times reports on the difficulties, perceived and otherwise, surrounding the first application of Ireland to join the EEC in 1963.
  • The Guardian reports on how the Russian Arctic islands of Novaya Zemlya have been facing an influx of hungry polar bears.
  • This account at the NYR Daily of Oceania, an exhibit of art from the Pacific islands at the Royal Academy, makes me wish I could have seen it.
  • The Inter Press Service reports on the victory of Mauritius over the United Kingdom at the International Court of Justice, ordering Britain to retreat from Diego Garcia and to allow the Chagossians to return to their archipelagic home.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • D-Brief considers the possibility that human food when eaten by bears, by shortening their hibernation periods, might contribute to their premature aging.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the political power of sports and of music.
  • Far Outliers notes the rising bourgeoisie of Calcutta in the 1990s.
  • Steve Roby at The Fifteenth makes the case for Discovery as worthy of being considered Star Trek, not least because it is doing something new.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing notes how our tendency to track our lives through data can become dystopian.
  • JSTOR Daily notes that Illinois is starting to become home to resident populations of bald eagles.
  • Language Log takes a look at Ubykh.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes a Trumpist Canadian border guard.
  • The New APPS Blog notes how helicopter parenting is linked to rising levels of inequality.
  • The NYR Daily considers Jasper Johns.
  • At Out of Ambit, Diane Duane considers the rhythms and cycles of life generally and of being a writer specifically.
  • Otto Pohl looks at how people from the different German communities of southeast Europe were, at the end of the Second World War, taken to the Soviet Union as forced labourers.
  • Steve Maynard writes at Spacing, in the aftermath of the death of Jackie Shane, about the erasure and recovery of non-white queer history in Toronto.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains what would happen if someone fell into a blackhole.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the number of immigrants to Russia are falling, with Ukrainians diminishing particularly in number while Central Asian numbers remain more resistant to the trend.
  • Arnold Zwicky notes the telling omission of sexual orientation as a protected category re: hate crimes.

[PHOTO] Bear abandoned, in front of Flowers by Shyu, Dupont and Dufferin

Bear abandoned, in front of Flowers by Shyu, Dupont and Dufferin

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

[LINK] “Grizzly bears can use tools, study shows”

CBC shares an article by the Associated Press’ Shannon Quinn about the latest animal species that, on closer examination, turns out to have high intelligence: bears. It does make sense, in that bears like humans are fairly flexible omnivores. Surely both species would need a similar kind of intelligence.

It may no longer be good enough to hang your food in a tree to keep it away from bears when you go camping, according to a first-of-its-kind study at the Washington State University Bear Research Education and Conservation Center.

Some — but not all — grizzlies can use primitive tools to thwart your efforts, veterinary student Alex Waroff found this summer in an experiment assisted by Charlie Robbins, WSU bear centre director, and O. Lynne Nelson, assistant director and professor of cardiology at WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Nelson said the idea for the study came from a report in a peer-reviewed journal of “first tool use” by a brown bear in Alaska.

“The bear was observed to pick up a rock or shell and use it to scratch his face,” Nelson said. “Those of us who work with bears read the report and essentially said, ‘Really? Is that the best you have?’ “Nelson said the idea for the study came from a report in a peer-reviewed journal of “first tool use” by a brown bear in Alaska.

Nelson said she, and others who work with bears, see evidence of bears manipulating objects for a specific goal all the time — the definition of tool use.

“Of course, all of these observations are anecdote,” she said. “So we decided to put this problem-solving skill to standardized research protocol.”

Written by Randy McDonald

August 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm

[PHOTO] Four statues and one building, Ottawa

Canada’s National War Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are here, located on Confederation Square on Wellington Street east of Parliament Hill–the East Block is visible in the right background.

National War Memorial, Ottawa

Adjoining the National War Memorial on Confederation Square is the Valiants Memorial, a collection of nine busts and five statues–all life-sized–of key figures from Canada’s military history. Laura Secord, heroine of the War of 1812 after her crossing the American lines in the primeval forest to warn the British allowed for a British victory at Battle of Beaver Dams, stands here.

Laura Second, National War Memorial, Ottawa

The Château Laurier is easily one of the most iconic hotels in Canada.

Château Laurier, Ottawa

The statue of Canadian jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson is fun, not only because of the vivacity an the energy of the statue as described by Martin Knelman in the Toronto Star back in 2010, but because the loudspeaker placed above plays his music. It lives.

Oscar Peterson, Ottawa

Guarding the eastern end of the pedestrian mall covering a goodly section of Sparks Street just south of Wellington, the bear in Bruce Garner‘s 1990 statue “Territorial Prerogative” stands defiantly.

Bruce Garner, "Territorial Prerogative"

[LINK] “Tool-use in the brown bear (Ursus arctos)”

io9 linked to Volker B. Deecke’s paper in the journal Animal Cognition describing tool use in the brown bear. Abstract below.

This is the first report of tool-using behaviour in a wild brown bear (Ursus arctos). Whereas the use of tools is comparatively common among primates and has also been documented in several species of birds, fishes and invertebrates, tool-using behaviours have so far been observed in only four species of non-primate mammal. The observation was made and photographed while studying the behaviour of a subadult brown bear in south-eastern Alaska. The animal repeatedly picked up barnacle-encrusted rocks in shallow water, manipulated and re-oriented them in its forepaws, and used them to rub its neck and muzzle. The behaviour probably served to relieve irritated skin or to remove food-remains from the fur. Bears habitually rub against stationary objects and overturn rocks and boulders during foraging and such rubbing behaviour could have been transferred to a freely movable object to classify as tool-use. The bear exhibited considerable motor skills when manipulating the rocks, which clearly shows that these animals possess the advanced motor learning necessary for tool-use. Advanced spatial cognition and motor skills for object manipulation during feeding and tool-use provide a possible explanation for why bears have the largest brains relative to body size of all carnivores. Systematic research into the cognitive abilities of bears, both in captivity and in the wild, is clearly warranted to fully understand their motor-learning skills and physical intelligence related to tool-use and other object manipulation tasks.

A quick Google search using the keywords “bear” and “intelligence” produces a few links–here at PBS, there at Bearsmart, over here at Global Animal–reporting on the intelligence of bears. No links to scientific papers come up, however; most of the reports seem to be anecdotal.

Do bears belong in the same class of highly intelligence animal as primates, cetaceans, elephants, parrots and ravens, and cephalopods? What other animals belong to that class?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm