Polar bear is mesmerised by his own reflection in car bumper
When you think of polar bears, some people might picture them as gigantic furry killing machines. Indeed, polar bears have a fearsome reputation as the apex predator of the Arctic, capable of devouring any prey that's unlucky enough to get near to them. Other people might think that the majestic white bears are actually cute and cuddly, and would give anything to give them a nice big bear hug without the possibility of having their head chewed off.
The reality is that bears are a little bit of both, and the polar bear species is no exception. They're capable of being adorable and affectionate, and also terrifying and dangerous at once. But recently a video of one particularly vain member of ursus maritimus has gone viral on social media and shows a sweeter, more playful side to them.
The video shows a polar bear admiring its own reflection in the shiny bumper of a nearby car. The bear seems to be fascinated that the shape in the mirrored image mimics his every move and gesture, and can be seen staring at the reflection for quite some time. The footage was uploaded to YouTube, and then posted on a subreddit community devoted to polar bears, by Alan James Spence, who spotted the clever bear polar bear wandering along the road in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.
This isn't the first display of keen ursine intelligence we've seen from these animals lately. A recent zoological study, published in the scientific journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used polar bears to conclusively prove that larger brains predict better cognitive ability in mammals. The researchers observed animals in nine US zoos and presented 140 animals from 39 different mammalian carnivore species with a problem-solving task.
Out of a large roster of other species, which also included, arctic foxes, tigers, river otters, wolves, spotted hyenas, and some rare, exotic species, such as binturongs, snow leopards, and wolverines, the polar bears performed by far the best at the various tasks presented to them - and also had the largest brains of any other species.
Commenting on her results, Michigan State University professor of integrative biology Kay Holekamp stated: "Our results are robust, showing that having a larger brain really does improve the animal’s ability to solve a problem it has never encountered before ... A hypothesis that has garnered much support in primate studies is ‘the social brain hypothesis,’ which proposes that larger brains evolved to deal with challenges in the social domain. This hypothesis suggests that intelligence evolved to enable animals to anticipate, respond to and perhaps, even manipulate the actions of others in their social groups."
So there you have it: polar bears are a lot smarter than you might give them credit for. It's just a shame that climate change has threatened their national habitat. There may come a time in the future if humans don't learn to be more responsible, when these incredible animals will have gone extinct.