Laurel Neme

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Bears

Black Bears: Despite being built for strength instead of speed, black bears can run up to 35 miles per hour.

Black Bears: Black bears are good tree climbers and strong swimmers.

Unlike other animals, like dogs, who use their tails to convey their feelings, a bear’s backside is usually out of sight when it communicates, making a tail superfluous.

Indigenous cultures often respect bears both for their strength and physical power and also for their sacred power. In many cultures, the bear is a powerful animal spirit, and angering it could be dangerous.

Bears typically meet danger head on and facing forward.  Scientists hypothesize this is why bears have just a small, furry flap of skin instead of a tail.

For many people, bears possess remarkable powers.  They believe bears can not only change shape (as reflected in myths) but also that they could come back to life (with hibernation perhaps symbolizing the ability to resurrection itself).

A bear’s forepaws have remarkable dexterity.  If given the opportunity, a bear can open anything from door latches to screw-top jars.

Bears are built for strength, not speed.  They have massive shoulders, short back and feet bones (called metapodials), and thick muscles that run the entire length of its legs instead of tapering toward the foot, as would happen with a faster animal like a lion.

Bear milk is higher in fat and protein than the milk of most other animals.  It has three times the energy content of human or cow milk.

Bears mark trees (called “bear trees”) along their travel routes by clawing and biting the bark.

Bears sleep during birth. They give birth while they’re hibernating.

Not all bears hibernate. Hibernation is thought to result from a lack of food. Polar bears don’t hibernate. Neither do members of the bear family living in the rainforests of South America, Southeast Asia or in the hot regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Bears have an extraordinary sense of smell, seven times better than a bloodhound’s. They can sense prey 40 miles away, and even detect humans more than 14 hours after they’d passed.

During winter “hibernation,” bears lose about 100 pounds, or a third of their body weight.

The “smell” part of a bear’s brain is average-sized, but its extra large nasal mucous membrane (100 times that of a person’s) and vomeronasal organs (also called Jacobson’s organ) in the roof of her mouth heighten its sensitivity.

Bears are not true hibernators.  While their heart and breathing rates slow significantly, to between two and four breaths per minute, to conserve energy, their body temperature drops just 4-7oC (from the normal 38oC to 31-34oC), letting them wake up quickly if disturbed.

Bears have an extraordinary sense of smell, seven times better than a bloodhound’s. They can sense prey 40 miles away, and even detect humans more than 14 hours after they’d passed.

Denning bears do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate.