When we think of polar bears, we tend to think of a sad bear swimming, looking for a floe of ice to cling to. Maybe instead we should be concerned they’re going to organize and march on Washington.
At least that’s the tone scientists have taken after looking through the polar bear genome. It turns out these bears are even tougher than we thought.
We used to believe polar bears diverged from brown bears 600,000 years ago, but it turns out they’ve been around for four or five million years. They’ve also dealt with temperature changes, although none as drastic as what we’ve been inflicting on the Earth lately. Unsurprisingly the scientific data shows that the warmer it gets on this rock the fewer polar bears there are.
The big threat right now is that as the ice melts, populations become separated and the breeding options are limited, weakening the species’ overall genetic diversity. Polar bears are so hard up for lovin’ that they’ve recently been seen, uh, how do we put this, “interacting” with brown bears. That would create a new hybrid species and reduce polar bear numbers even further.
In short, polar bears are tougher than we thought but we’re doing our best to smack them down. Somehow we’re not betting on humanity in this fight.
image courtesy longhorndave on Flickr
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