Intact Pleistocene cave bear discovered in Siberia


This 14 September 2020 video says about itself:

Another Ice mummy has been uncovered in Russia. An adult cave bear and cub have been found fully intact with all original organs in the place they were when the critter died!

From the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk in Siberia, by Anna Baisakova:

NEFU scientists to study cave bear found on the Lyakhovsky Islands

First-ever preserved grown up cave bear – even its nose is intact – unearthed on the Arctic island

Separately at least one preserved carcass of a cave bear cub found on the mainland of Yakutia, with scientists hopeful of obtaining its DNA.

More details of the finds are to be announced soon.

Until now only the bones of cave bears have been discovered.

The new finds are of ‘world importance’, according to one of Russia’s leading experts on extinct Ice Age species.

Scientist Lena Grigorieva said of the island discovery of the adult beast: ‘Today this is the first and only find of its kind – a whole bear carcass with soft tissues. ‘It is completely preserved, with all internal organs in place including even its nose. «Previously, only skulls and bones were found. This find is of great importance for the whole world».

The remains were found by reindeer herders on the island and the remains will be analysed by scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, which is at the forefront of research into extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos.

Russian and foreign colleagues will be invited to join the study.

The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is a prehistoric species or subspecies that lived in Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene period and became extinct about 15,000 years ago.

Preliminary analysis suggests the bear to be between 22,000 and 39,500 years old.

«It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear,» said senior researcher Maxim Cheprasov from the Mammoth Museum laboratory in Yakutsk. The finder transferred the right to research to the scientists of NEFU, he said.

Unique discovery of perfectly preserved extinct cave bear showing its teeth after up to 39,000 years.

Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island, or Great Lyakhovsky, is the largest of the Lyakhovsky Islands belonging to the New Siberian Islands archipelago between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea in northern Russia.

A scientific programme for its comprehensive study will be prepared. We will have to study the carcass of a bear using all modern scientific research methods – molecular genetic, cellular, microbiological and others.

«The research is planned on as large a scale as in the study of the famous Malolyakhovsky mammoth,» said Dr Grigorieva, leading researcher of the International Centre for Collective Use of Molecular Paleontology at the NEFU’s Institute of Applied Ecology of the North.

Recent years have seen major discoveries of mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies and Cave Lion cubs as the permafrost melts in Siberia.

Reference:

The International Center for Collective Use “Molecular Paleontology” was opened in March 2015 on the basis of the laboratory “Mammoth Museum named after P.A. Lazarev” RIAEN as a separate structural unit of the institute. The opening of the ICCU became possible due to the agreement on scientific cooperation on the project “Revival of the mammoth and other fossil animals”, concluded between NEFU and the South Korean Sooam Biotechnological Institute on September 23, 2012. One of the priority areas of cooperation is joint research in the field of studying the genome of ancient animals.

Bears in Alaska and British Columbia


This 31 July 2020 video from North America says about itself:

Majestic Bears of Alaska & British Columbia | Free Documentary Nature

Our film journey begins in Alaska’s west. We are hoping to find glacier bears in the glacial regions of the Katmai National Park on the Douglas River. At the end of July, brown bears have now arrived to fish for salmon. In the surrounding forests, grizzlies look for berries and fresh, green twigs.

The Katmai is Alaska’s most volcanic area, and with 15 active volcanoes it is a veritable powder keg, surrounded by glaciers. In the Hook glacier region moose and lynx accompany us. Bald eagles have arrived at the glacial boundary and begin to tear apart their freshly caught prey. At last, we catch sight of a glacier bear. Hungry, he has left the ice region and has been forced down here in search of food, which he satisfies extensively with fresh shoots and berries.

Continuing our film trip, we head for Prince Royal Island in British Columbia. En route, we meet with black bears on their way with their young to fish for salmon. The mother bears have to remain alert to protect their young, as we have spotted some New World porcupines too.

Then, out of the blue, directly in front of us: the Kermode, or spirit bear. He shows no signs of timidity and is only interested in one thing: salmon. Then, a further Kermode appears, enjoying his cranberry dessert, allowing us to approach him, almost too close for comfort. But a black bear arrives on the scene and claims the cranberry bush for itself. After a brief confrontation, the Kermode opts to leave, preferring to focus on salmon fishing. Fascinating footage of this rare species of animal.

Trump legalizes cruel baby bear, wolf poaching


This 14 June 2020 video says about itself:

Trump Admin Reverses Obama-Era Ban on ‘Barbaric’ Hunting Methods | NowThis

The Trump admin just reversed an Obama-era ban on brutal hunting tactics that endanger bear cubs and wolf pups.

Under new rules, hunters can lure out hibernating grizzly bears to kill them using doughnuts soaked in bacon grease and use spotlights to blind bears and wolves & hunt them in their dens. These hunting methods were banned as barbaric under Obama in 2015 over protests from many Alaska officials and the big-game hunting lobby.

Brown bears, video


This 5 May 2020 video says about itself:

What is a brown bear? Candid Animal Cam explores the lives of some of the largest bears in the world

This week on Candid Animal Cam, we’re learning about the second-largest bear species in the world — the brown bear. These bears can be distinguished by their prominent shoulder humps, and they’re found from North America to Europe and Asia.

Bears at volcanic hot water


This 14 April 2020 BBC video says about itself:

Bears Brave Boiling Pools To Feed | VR 360 | Seven Worlds, One Planet

This remote landscape in Russia is home to brown bears who come to feed on nutritious algae. But they have to watch their step, as danger lurks in every pool. Stay in and explore this vast wilderness.

Spectacled bear on camera trap in Peru


This 10 March 2020 video says about itself:

What is a spectacled bear? Candid Animal Cam takes us to the Andes

Special thanks to WWF-Peru for sharing this footage with us, and to the San Miguelito Jaguar Conservation Ranch for additional footage.

And shout out to our writer and biologist Romi Castagnino, who hosted, produced and shot this video!

Short-faced bears, biggest bears ever


This 23 April 2019 video says about itself:

The Mystery Behind the Biggest Bears of All Time

The short-faced bears turned out to be remarkably adaptable, undergoing radical changes to meet the demands of two changing continents. And yet, for reasons we don’t quite understand, their adaptability wasn’t enough to keep them from going extinct.

Thanks to Fabrizio De Rossi and Studio 252mya for the Arctodus and Arctotherium illustrations. You can find more of their work here.

And thanks to Ceri Thomas for the Plionarctos and Arctotherium reconstructions! Check out more of Ceri’s paleoart at http://alphynix.tumblr.com and http://nixillustration.com.

Grizzly bears eating huckleberries, new research


This 1 August 2013 video from Montana in the USA says about itself:

Grizzly bear was eating huckleberry in Glacier National Park.

From the University of Washington in the USA:

New tool maps a key food source for grizzly bears: huckleberries

March 26, 2019

Summary: Researchers have developed a new approach to map huckleberry distribution across Glacier National Park that uses publicly available satellite imagery. Tracking where huckleberry plants live can help biologists predict where grizzly bears will also be found.

Grizzly bears depend on huckleberries as a critical food source to fatten up before winter hibernation. When berries reach peak ripeness in mid-July, they make up about half of the diet for the hundreds of grizzly bears that live in and around Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Despite the importance of huckleberries to grizzly bears, listed as threatened in the lower 48 states, there is no comprehensive way to know where the shrubs are located across the park’s vast terrain. Tracking where huckleberry plants live now — and where they may move under climate change — would help biologists predict where grizzly bears will also be found.

The University of Washington and U.S. Geological Survey have developed an approach to map huckleberry distribution across Glacier National Park that uses publicly available satellite imagery. Their new method is described in a recent paper in the International Journal of Remote Sensing.

“The inspiration behind the research was to map huckleberry patches to identify and protect areas of prime grizzly bear habitat. Grizzlies depend on huckleberries as a main source of food in late summer, and huckleberry distribution may be shifting with climate change”, said lead author Carolyn Shores, a doctoral student in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences who also works as a caribou biologist for British Columbia’s fish and wildlife agency.

Huckleberry plants are an important cultural and economic resource for people, as well, particularly indigenous communities in the U.S. and Canada. Given the significance this plant plays in the life history of people, bears and dozens of other species, biologists need to be able to map and assess changes to the distribution of huckleberries to learn how to conserve them, said senior author Tabitha Graves, a research ecologist with U.S. Geological Survey who is based in the national park.

“This tool will be combined with future models of the timing and productivity of berries to inform managers of options for protecting food for bears, birds, pollinators, small mammals and humans,” Graves said.

While Glacier National Park was used as a test site for mapping huckleberries, this approach could be used around the world to map other important shrub and tree communities, or track the progression of disease or insect outbreaks, the authors said.

The research team used satellite and aerial imagery from two different sources — NASA’s Landsat images and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Imagery Program — to examine patterns in huckleberry plants that turn a brilliant red color each fall. Those plants’ bright, distinguishable color makes it possible to pick it out seasonally among other plants in the landscape.

Landsat satellites have taken regular photos of the Earth’s surface down to 30 meters (100 feet) resolution for more than four decades. These aerial images helped the research team pick out the unique visual patterns of huckleberries in areas where the plants are known to live, then use modeling to predict their distribution across the entire park.

The National Agriculture Imagery Program images were taken less frequently, but at a higher resolution of 1 meter (3 feet). Researchers used these images to train a computer to recognize huckleberries, then map the entire park with that learned information. Both methods rely on the bright red color in autumn that distinguishes huckleberries from most other plants.

The team tested the accuracy of each approach by hiking to areas in Glacier National Park where huckleberries live, making sure that the plants were in fact living where the aerial photos showed they were. In total, their mapping techniques were about 80 percent accurate, they found. The methods worked less well for mapping huckleberry plants that are under tree cover, but the plants are often in open areas.

This technique will also help to answer questions about the impacts of wildfire or other disturbances on huckleberry distribution, the researchers said.

“Our approach is the first we know of that attempts to distinguish an individual understory species based on color change”, Shores said. She noted that satellite imagery has been used to identify taller species, such as trees killed by beetles in Canada.

During the mapping project, they found that most huckleberry plants in Glacier National Park are more than 100 meters (328 feet) away from hiking trails, which bodes well for grizzly bears to be able to feed with little disturbance from humans, Shores said.

While this study focused on mapping the distribution of huckleberry shrubs in the national park, the next step is to complete several other studies aiming to understand the huckleberry lifecycle and predict the timing of berries. That information will help grizzly bear managers consider where human-bear conflicts might occur and work to minimize them.

“My vision is to have a real-time prediction of potential human-bear conflict areas,” Graves said.

Grizzly bears spend many months in hibernation, but their muscles do not suffer from the lack of movement. Researchers report on how they manage to do this. The grizzly bears’ strategy could help prevent muscle atrophy in humans as well: here.

Sun bears’ facial expressions, new study


This 2014 video from Myanmar says about itself:

Sun bears are extremely hard to find in the wild. But with the right amount of luck – and an advanced motion-sensor camera, of course – you can catch them unguarded.

From the University of Portsmouth in England:

World’s smallest bears’ facial expressions throw doubt on human superiority

First time exact facial mimicry has been seen outside of humans and gorillas

March 21, 2019

The world’s smallest bears can exactly mimic another bear’s facial expressions, casting doubt on humans and other primates’ supremacy at this subtle form of communication.

It is the first time such exact facial mimicry has been seen outside of humans and gorillas.

The research, by Dr Marina Davila-Ross and PhD candidate Derry Taylor, both at the University of Portsmouth, is published in Scientific Reports.

The researchers studied sun bears — a solitary species in the wild, but also surprisingly playful — for more than two years.

They found bears can use facial expressions to communicate with others in a similar way to humans and apes, strongly suggesting other mammals might also be masters of this complex social skill and, in addition, have a degree of social sensitivity.

Dr Davila-Ross said: “Mimicking the facial expressions of others in exact ways is one of the pillars of human communication. Other primates and dogs are known to mimic each other, but only great apes and humans, and now sun bears, were previously known to show such complexity in their facial mimicry.

“Because sun bears appear to have facial communication of such complexity and because they have no special evolutionary link to humans like monkeys or apes, nor are they domesticated animals like dogs, we are confident that this more advanced form of mimicry is present in various other species. This, however, needs to be further investigated.

“What’s most surprising is the sun bear is not a social animal. In the wild, it’s a relatively solitary animal, so this suggests the ability to communicate via complex facial expressions could be a pervasive trait in mammals, allowing them to navigate their societies.”

Facial mimicry is when an animal responds to another’s facial expression with the same or similar expression. Mr Taylor coded the facial expressions of 22 sun bears in spontaneous social play sessions.

The bears, aged 2-12, were housed in Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Malaysia in which enclosures were large enough to allow bears to choose whether to interact or not.

Despite the bears’ preference in the wild for a solitary life, the bears in this study took part in hundreds of play bouts, with more than twice as many gentle play sessions compared to rough play.

During these encounters, the research team coded two distinct expressions — one involving a display of the upper incisor teeth, and one without.

The bears were most likely to show precise facial mimicry during gentle play.

Mr Taylor said such subtle mimicking could be to help two bears signal that they are ready to play more roughly, or to strengthen social bonds.

He said: “It is widely believed that we only find complex forms of communication in species with complex social systems. As sun bears are a largely solitary species, our study of their facial communication questions this belief, because it shows a complex form of facial communication that until now was known only in more social species.

“Sun bears are an elusive species in the wild and so very little is known about them. We know they live in tropical rainforests, eat almost everything, and that outside of the mating season adults have little to do with one another.

“That’s what makes these results so fascinating — they are a non-social species who when face to face can communicate subtly and precisely.”

Sun bears, also known as honey bears, stand at 120-150 cm tall and weigh up to 80kg. They are endangered and live in the tropical forests of south-east Asia.

Social sophistication aside, sun bear numbers are dwindling due to deforestation, poaching and being killed by farmers for eating crops. Increasingly, new mother bears are killed so their cub can be taken and raised as a pet or kept in captivity as ‘bile bears‘ where their bile is harvested for use in some Chinese medicines.

The field research was funded by the Royal Society and the Leakey Foundation.

Previous research at the University of Portsmouth showed dogs alter their facial expressions if they know someone is looking at them.