Huffpost Science

Bears Can 'Count' And Compare Numbers, Showing Cognitive Ability, Scientists Say

Posted: Updated:
American black bears can count and compare quantities, researchers say.
American black bears can count and compare quantities, researchers say.

By Joseph Bennington-Castro

If there's anything more impressive than a bear's size, it's its intelligence. Bears can learn to ride bicycles, use tools, and as new research shows, "count."

Scientists trained three American black bears (Ursus Americanus) to discriminate between groups of dots on a touchscreen computer: Two bears learned to pick the group with fewer dots, while the third learned to choose the group with more dots.

In some trials, the group with fewer dots took up more space; in others, the dots moved. All three bears could use the number of dots to guide their choices, but the bear trained to pick groups with more dots performed better on its tests and could also discriminate with moving dots, researchers report online this month in the journal Animal Behaviour.

Overall, the bears' performance matched those of monkeys in previous studies, suggesting that animals can evolve impressive cognitive abilities without living in large social groups.

ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science

Also on HuffPost:

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Bears can count | DVICE

ScienceShot: These Bears Count - ScienceNOW

Study proves bears can "count" as well as primates

Real Think Tank: Study proves bears can ''count'' as well as primates ...

Physics News :: ScienceShot: These Bears Count

Bears can count

'Hair of the bear' census to count grizzlies in Montana