Weighing up to as much as 800 kg - that’s roughly the same as 10 men - a male boar Polar Bear is the largest *hypercarnivorous land mammal on the planet. In fact the largest specimen ever recorded was an Alaskan bear back in 1960, which weighed in at an astonishing 1,002 kg, and had a length of just over 11ft. Now that’s a big bear!
A polar bear paw alone can measure 30cm (1ft) in width, which is twice the size of that of Siberians tiger, and five times the size of our puny mitts - a high five you can’t miss… but watch out for those 9cm claws.
The size stats of the bear continue to impress all over, all until you get to the tail - and you may ask yourselves if they even have a tail. The answer is yes, of course they do! It’s totally there, it’s just that it’s 3-5 inches long; although don’t make fun of it: polar bears are very self conscious about their tails - especially after what happened with that trickster of a fox.
Yes, according to an old Norwegian folk story, it was a fox who was responsible for the bears now stumpy rear rudder. Before this terrible event, the bear had a spiffing swishing tail to be proud of.
It all happened the day the bear bumped into the fox and saw that the fox had a bounty of fish with him. He asked where the fox got all these lovely fish from, and the fox told the bear that he had caught them all using his tail. All the bear had to do was cut a hole in the ice, and sit there with his tail dangling in the water. When the fish see it, they’d cling on to it, and all the bear would have to do is lift them out.
The bear followed the fox’s fishing instructions and found himself waiting out there on the ice for a long time. This was ok though, because the fox said he would have to be patient. After some considerable time his tail started to sting quite a bit, but according to the fox this meant that the fish were biting and so he quickly jerked his tail out of the water - just like the fox said.
Alas, this caused the bear's tail to cleanly snap off, for he had been fooled by the trickster fox, and that is why they have such a small tails.
* Oh, if you were wondering what ‘hypercarnivorous’ means: it describes an animal that lives on a diet consisting of 70% meat - and yes, that most certainly would include foxes!
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With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se. Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.
For millennia, our view of the natural world was more akin to Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’, rather than Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth’. We lived in a world where animals were characterised by the mystical connotations we attributed to them. We believed certain animals could predict the future, were bringers of good fortune, even riches, and others brought ill, fire, floods, and imminent death.