Posted 11-18-2004 at 07:57:23
[Reply] [No Email]
..was right. Although why I needed to know this at 5:45 a.m. in the morning, escapes me.
Q: Is it true that polar bears are left handed? (Jennifer, Florence, Italy)
A: We urbanized folks don't get many chances to find out. I, for one, am grateful. What should I do if a hungry, gigantic, mean male races across the broken ice pack at 18 mph (29 km/h) to eat me?
Duck to his right! Polar bears are left-handed, according to Inupiaq (IN-yoo-pack) elders.
I'll take their word for it.
The Inupiaq dwell in the icy lands on the North Slope of Alaska near present-day Barrow. These Inuits have lived with such creatures over the past several thousand years. They know.
"Avoid his lethal left!" They say.
I was unable to find any scientific studies of polar-bear handedness. Instead, I based my answer on anthropologist Richard Nelson's account. In the 1960s, Nelson spent about a year living with the Inupiaq in the tiny village of Wainwright.
"Inupiaq elders say polar-bears are left-handed, so you have a slightly better chance to avoid their right paw, which is slower and less accurate," says Nelson.