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5 Fictional Bears and Whether They'd Kill You

From docile to deadly, we’ve ranked our favorite fictional bears by your likelihood of surviving an unplanned run-in with them.

1. PADDINGTON BEAR (ANDEAN BEAR)

The only bears native to Paddington’s home country of Peru, Andeans are docile omnivores. When they see (or smell) a human, their first move is to bolt up a tree. Unless you’re packing one of Paddington’s marmalade sandwiches, you’re probably in the clear.

2. SMOKEY (AMERICAN BLACK BEAR)

Smoke the Bear

Jim, The Photographer, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Unlike their grizzly cousins, black bears are pretty timid. Smokey might charge if he felt threatened or thought you were starting a forest fire, but it would be a bluff to make you run away. Fight back and you’ll probably live ... to tell the coolest story ever.

3. BALOO (SLOTH BEAR)

Baloo Jungle Book
Walt Disney Company

The lovable bear from The Jungle Book is secretly into torture. Rather than killing victims outright, sloth bears chew their human prey’s limbs into what wildlife texts describe as “a perfect pulp.” Really adds a dark subtext to “The Bear Necessities,” doesn’t it?

4. LITTLE BEAR (GRIZZLY BEAR)

Little Bear
Nickelodeon Network

Grizzly bears are notoriously defensive and territorial. Should you encounter Little Bear in the wilds around his quaint country cottage, your best bet is to play dead until he determines you’re no longer a threat. Don’t get bold and try to fight back. You will not win.

5. RUPERT BEAR (LET'S SAY HE'S A POLAR BEAR)

Rupert Bear
Corus Entertainment

Don't be fooled by Rupert's fine British manners and garish golf pants. Unlike most bear species, polar bears are carnivorous. When a hungry male goes after you, he's in it to win it. Fortunately, encountering these guys is rare because you don't live in the Arctic.

This article originally appeared in mental_floss magazine.

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Animals
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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iStock

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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