Study Suggests Polar Bears Use Tools to Kill Walruses

A brand new examine has produced proof to recommend that centuries-old Inuit tales of polar bears killing walruses by smashing their skulls with heavy objects are factual moderately than fictional.

By reviewing firsthand and secondhand accounts authored by each Western naturalists and Inuit hunters, the examine authors, Ian Stirling, Kristin Laidre, and Erik Born, evaluated the veracity of anecdotal experiences that polar bears bludgeon walruses to dying with rocks or blocks of ice.

Their findings, which had been printed within the June situation of the scholarly journal Arctic, point out that comparable conduct does happen within the wild, albeit sometimes. Polar bears, they wrote, might depend on this tactic to hunt walruses “because of their large size, difficulty to kill, and their possession of potentially lethal weapons for both their own defense and the direct attack of a predator.”

In addition to people, crows, orangutans, and lots of different animals have been recognized to control their environment for their very own ends. Archer fish spit water at vegetation to dislodge bugs; elephants, chimpanzees, and capuchin monkeys use leaves and branches to purge their fur and pores and skin of parasites; dolphins in Australia’s Shark Bay put on sea sponges on their noses to forestall damage as they forage on the ocean ground.

Since 1780, tales of polar bears performing in the same method have circulated within the Western scientific neighborhood. Inuit hunters informed white explorers and naturalists in regards to the follow, however their accounts had been usually dismissed by the scientific institution as fabulous. As lately as 2009, the writer Richard Ellis described such experiences as “mythological,” in keeping with the examine. But Stirling wasn’t so positive.

“It’s been my general observation that if an experienced Inuit hunter tells you that he’s seen something, it’s worth listening to and very likely to be correct,” he informed Science News.

He and his colleagues got down to evaluate the obtainable proof to make a willpower. In addition to the prevalence of latest accounts, they wrote, circumstantial proof additionally helps the concept bears are able to conceptualizing the potential of instruments in buying and accessing meals. In 2010, a Japanese reporter photographed a 5-year-old male polar bear named GoGo efficiently using pipes, tree branches, logs, and toys to knock down a bit of meat that had been suspended three meters above his pool at Osaka’s Tennoji Zoological Gardens; he subsequently despatched the images to Born.

Considering, the authors wrote, it isn’t inconceivable that “an occasional adult polar bear might be capable of mentally conceptualizing a similar use of a piece of ice or a stone as a tool to attack the well-protected brain of a walrus in order to kill it.” What’s extra, they added, feminine bears might impart this information to their cubs, guaranteeing that it’s handed down by the generations.

Newsweek reached out to Born for remark however didn’t instantly obtain a response.

A polar bear walks on frozen tundra.
A polar bear walks on the frozen tundra in Canada. A brand new examine claims that bears have used instruments to kill walruses.

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