At a pub quiz recently a question came up asking whether all polar bears are left handed. The answer given at the quiz was that this is true, however most of us in our team believed this to be a myth.

Can you clear this up for us?

Oddly enough I've heard this one before as well but it's something I've not been able to verify either (not that I've looked too hard). Incidentally, most parrots are supposed to be left handed (well, footed) as well. I'll have another look and see if I can turn anything up.

as far as i can see it's an internet myth!

Well I have been digging since my last post. What I have found is quite interesting - lots of people are claiming that it is a myth and that there is no evidence for it. But oddly enough I have not been able to find any research on the subject and no one claiming that it is a myth has porvided any evidence (and ideally obviously a scientific paper disucssing the issue) to support their claim!

Now I have been able to find some proper stuff on North American anthropology and it seems that the origin of the idea comes from native America peoples. However, all there seems to be online is claim and counterclim that it is, or is not, a myth. But neither side can provide any evidence at all.

I would add that in addition to humans there certainly are species that favour one side over the other so the idea is neither silly nor necessarily unlikely. But I can't find any definitive evidence one way or the other.

I would add that in most populations of organisms that exhibit handedness there will usually be a small proportion that will have the opposite handedness. Most of a population is not all of the population and since it is impossible to test every member of a population for their handedness, the possibility should always be considered that there will be individuals that have the opposite handedness.

I would say that the quiz master was making a poorly supported assumption given the scant evidence available. But then that's quite normal for pub quiz masters in my experience...