Grizzly Bear Dance Lessons

By Amber Fields | March 6, 2008 10:37 pm

One of the great scientific questions has finally been answered: Can grizzly bears dance? Yes—and rather well, thank you very much. Researchers from the USGS have released video footage taken during the past two years of grizzly and black bears shimmying against tree trunks in Northwest Montana as if the very soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever was playing in the background.

Okay, these beasts are not really dancing. The bears (males primarily) are leaving their chemical “signature” behind on so-called rub trees to communicate with other males and avoid turf wars while searching for breeding females. Investigators recorded at 16 different sites in Glacier National Park and plan to use the footage to better understand bear behavior and improve experimental methods. Dance-off, anyone?


Click here to watch the video

MORE ABOUT: wacky animals
  • Don Tosaw Jr.

    Could these bears also being doing this because it feels good? Might they not be scratching their backs in addition to “marking” the tree with their scent? In one of the videos, the bear spent quite a long time rubbing his back and hind quarters on the tree. It seems likely that their was some gratification involved fot the bear, although I know that this is hard to test scientifically.

  • Michael Conklin

    It’s a technique I learned for scratching my own back when I was watching Walt Disney as a kid. Now THAT was educational TV!


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