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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Polar Bear Cannibalism on the Sea Ice
8 December 2011 12:39 pm
On 21 July 2010, a photographer observed a polar bear guarding its kill out on the sea ice in Svalbard, Norway. Not an unusual event—except that the prey it held in its mouth was another polar bear, a yearling cub. Even that was not unheard of: Inuit hunters in Greenland and Canada have long known that polar bears—usually adult males—might kill younger polar bears for food. But such events have only been reported on land, not on sea ice, and no one had photographed it before. Since then, says the photographer, Jenny Ross, there have been two other documented sightings of adult male polar bears on sea ice feeding on their younger bear kills, one in September 2009 and one in July 2010. Given the dwindling sea ice and the scarcity of seals nearby at that time of year, young polar bears may simply be the most available prey, Ross and Arctic biologist Ian Stirling of Environment Canada in Edmonton note in the December issue of Arctic. But, they add, it might also be a sign of things to come: A warming climate and less and less sea ice will send seals northward even earlier in the summer, and the frequency of intraspecies predation could increase.
Correction: This item originally misstated the date of the event in the photograph and the age of the younger polar bear.
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