Evolution of Polar Bears

Suppose you’re trying to attempt one of the excellent bears watching holidays to the Arctic. In that case, you may be interested in learning a little history about the Polar Bear and its evolution.

Sometime in the last 400,000 years, a food shortage crisis in the wild drove some bear species into the unrelenting environment of the Arctic. Our research into the Polar Bear genome has exhibited new ancestry information, and recent archaeological findings have created a revived interest in this glittering creature.


Initially, a fossil of a bear bone discovered at Kew Bridge in London was dated to about 70,000 years ago. Since this development, a fossilized jawbone was discovered in the Arctic and recorded to be over 100,000 years old, making the first evolution even earlier than we initially thought. These findings have proved to be an exciting development for both wildlife enthusiasts and other scientists.


To survive the harsh consequence of the Arctic weather conditions, the Brown Bears evolved in the following ways.


The Arctic climate’s initial shock was simply not sustainable for many of the primary migrators, and only those with thicker fur were able to endure and go on to breed. Over time, the prophecy of evolution presented them with fur comprising two layers and a thick layer of chubby body fat. These adaptations allowed for unbelievable insulation, with metabolic rates remaining stable even when temperatures reach as low as -30ºF.

Polar Bear Pictured || NYK Daily

Polar Bears are so well protected that they suffer more from heating than they do from the freezing climatic conditions. This has affected their capacity to run long distances, as they are prone to heat when they do so. Instead, they prefer a slow, lumbering pace, presenting ideal sighting possibilities for those on Arctic vacations. So, in other words, Polar Bears are slow because speed causes overheating.

Colour Change

Perhaps the most striking of changes was the fur’s lightening to the milky white coat so well-known today. Brown Bears formerly had difficulty when it came to hunting in the Arctic due to their dark, bold coats that warned prey from miles away. Those that originally had lighter fur were far more prosperous in their hunting habits and therefore paved the way for this vital evolutionary adjustment.

The white coats help not only with fishing but also to stay hidden from predators (largely including territorial threats from their own species), and they’re known to dig shelter pits in snowbanks in freezing weather and become indistinguishable as snowdrifts over them. Unfortunately, bad weather isn’t fitting for bear sightings, but once weather conditions improve, chances increase dramatically.

Marine Abilities

The Polar Bear is the only bear viewed as a marine mammal due to its unbelievable swimming abilities. While originally good swimmers, they evolved to swim long lengths to travel from one ice floe to the next. They have also been found diving for food with extreme precision and speed and have the unusual ability to swim underneath thin ice. The rare sighting of a Polar Bear diving for fishing has been a massive source of excitement for scientists. It provides additional evolutionary evidence of how far Polar Bears have come since the days of their darker colored ancestors.

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