Black Bears Can "Count" as Well as Primates
Do black bears count in the woods? Possibly, according to a recent study that shows the mammals are as smart as primates.
In experiments, captive bears showed that they could perform numerical tasks, including distinguishing the number of dots on an image.
Even though bears have the largest relative brain size of any carnivore (still not as big as primates), surprisingly little research has been done on their cognitive abilities, according to the study. (Read "Animal Minds" in National Geographic magazine.)
The new research shows for the first time that "bears and other animals that have been neglected by cognitive scientists ... may show abilities similar to species more like humans," study co-author Jennifer Vonk, a comparative psychologist at the University of Oakland in Rochester, Michigan, said by email.
For the experiment, three black bears in their enclosure in Alabama's Mobile