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The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size.[3] An adult male weighs around 350–680 kg (770–1,500 lb),[4] while an adult female is about half that size. Although it is

Polar Bear
220px-Polar Bear - Alaska

Origin

Around the Artic Circle

Habitat

Tundra

Diet

Fish,Seals,Penguins etc.

Combat Status

Defeated by the Kodiak Bear

closely related to the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet.[5] Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Their scientific name means "maritime bear", and derives from this fact. Polar bears can hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present.

The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in decline.[6] For decades, large scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures.


Physical CharacteristicsEdit

The polar bear is the largest terrestrial carnivore, being more than twice as big as the Siberian tiger.[34] It shares this title with the Kodiak Bear.[35] Adult males weigh 350–680 kg (770–1500 lbs) and measure 2.4–3 m (7.9–9.8 ft) in length.[36] Adult females are roughly half the size of males and normally weigh 150–249 kg (330–550 lb), measuring 1.8–2.4 metres (5.9–7.9 ft) in length. When pregnant, however, they can weigh as much as 499 kg (1,100 lb).[36] The polar bear is among the most sexually dimorphic of mammals, surpassed only by the pinnipeds.[37] The largest polar bear on record, reportedly weighing 1,002 kg (2,210 lb), was a male shot at Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska in 1960.[38] The shoulder height of the polar bear is 130–160 cm (51–63 in).[39]

Compared with its closest relative, the brown bear, the polar bear has a more elongated body build and a longer skull and nose.[22] As predicted by Allen's rule for a northerly animal, the legs are stocky and the ears and tail are small.[22] However, the feet are very large to distribute load when walking on snow or thin ice and to provide propulsion when swimming; they may measure 30 cm (12 in) across in an adult.[40] The pads of the paws are covered with small, soft papillae (dermal bumps) which provide traction on the ice.[22] The polar bear's claws are short and stocky compared to those of the brown bear, perhaps to serve the former's need to grip heavy prey and ice.[22] The claws are deeply scooped on the underside to assist in digging in the ice of the natural habitat. Despite a recurring Internet meme that all polar bears are left-handed,[41][42] there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.[43] Unlike the brown bear, polar bears in captivity are rarely overweight or particularly large, possibly as a reaction to the warm conditions of most zoos.

The 42 teeth of a polar bear reflect its highly carnivorous diet.[22] The cheek teeth are smaller and more jagged than in the brown bear, and the canines are larger and sharper.[22] The dental formula is [22]

Polar bears are superbly insulated by up to 10 cm (3.9 in) of blubber,[40] their hide and their fur; they overheat at temperatures above 10 °C (50 °F), and are nearly invisible under infrared photography.[44] Polar bear fur consists of a layer of dense underfur and an outer layer of guard hairs, which appear white to tan but are actually transparent.[40] The guard hair is 5–15 cm (2.0–5.9 in) over most of the body.[45] Polar bears gradually moult from May to August,[46] but, unlike other Arctic mammals, they do not shed their coat for a darker shade to camouflage themselves in the summer conditions. The hollow guard hairs of a polar bear coat were once thought to act as fiber-optic tubes to conduct light to its black skin, where it could be absorbed; however, this theory was disproved by recent studies.[47]

The white coat usually yellows with age. When kept in captivity in warm, humid conditions, the fur may turn a pale shade of green due to algae growing inside the guard hairs.[48] Males have significantly longer hairs on their forelegs, that increase in length until the bear reaches 14 years of age. The male's ornamental foreleg hair is thought to attract females, serving a similar function to the lion's mane.[49]

The polar bear has an extremely well developed sense of smell, being able to detect seals nearly 1 mi (1.6 km) away and buried under 3 ft (0.91 m) of snow.[50] Its hearing is about as acute as that of a human, and its vision is also good at long distances.[50]

The polar bear is an excellent swimmer and individuals have been seen in open Arctic waters as far as 200 mi (320 km) from land. With its body fat providing buoyancy, it swims in a dog paddle fashion using its large forepaws for propulsion.[51] Polar bears can swim 6 mph (9.7 km/h). When walking, the polar bear tends to have a lumbering gait and maintains an average speed of around 3.5 mph (5.6 km/h).[51] When sprinting, they can reach up to 25 mph (40 km/h).[52]

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