Flashback Friday: Are bears really attracted to menstruating women?

By Seriously Science | January 20, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/peupleloup

Photo: flickr/peupleloup

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a materials and methods section that included a bloody tampon. And we trust that it won’t be the last. Here, the researchers tested the commonly-held belief that bears are attracted to menstruating women. But the best part was their experimental setup: “15 used tampons, all from different women, were presented in groups of 5 to adult male black bears that were feeding in a garbage dump. We tied each group of tampons to a monofilament line and spin-cast them to foraging bears. The tampons were cast past the bears and dragged back under their noses.” Turns out that the bears were not at all attracted to the tampons, under this or any of the other conditions they tested. So there you have it, ladies: camping is once again safe, no matter what time of month it is!

Reactions of Black Bears to Human Menstrual Odors

“Due to widespread concern that menstruating women might be attacked by black bears (Ursus americanus), we recorded responses of 26 free-ranging black bears to tampons from 26 women and recorded responses of 20 free-ranging bears to 4 menstruating women in northeastern Minnesota. Menstrual odors were essentially ignored by black bears of all ages and either sex, regardless of season or the bear’s reproductive status. In an extensive review of black bear attacks across North America, we found no instance of black bears attacking or being attracted to menstruating women.”

Thanks to Mike E. for today’s article idea!

Related content:
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NCBI ROFL: Best materials and methods ever.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
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  • OWilson

    They should drag a few across the floor of the lab where this myth originated.

    There you’ll find your perp! :)

    Then recover the grant :)

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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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