IT IS impossible not to scratch an itch, so it’s no wonder this brown bear reached for some help. It was seen scratching its skin with rocks – the first bear definitively known to use a tool.
In July 2011, Volker Deecke of the University of Cumbria, UK, was on holiday in Alaska’s Glacier Bay national park when he spotted a brown bear in shallow water. The animal picked up a small, barnacle-covered rock, turned it around a few times then rubbed the rock over its face for a minute. It repeated this with another rock.
The bear was moulting, and had big patches of fur hanging off its skin. Moulting bears often scratch themselves with their claws, or rub their bodies against trees. The rocks may have given that exfoliating feeling. Learn more here.