MARGARITO • The polar bear is one of eight bear species. Its Latin name is Ursus maritimus, which means” sea bear. • The polar bear is one the youngest of the eight bear species. Scientists believe that the polar bear evolved about 200,000 years ago from brown bear ancestors. • Polar bears are the world’s largest land predators. They top the food chain in the Arctic, where they dine primarily on seals. • The polar bear’s main prey is the ringed seal. The ringed seal is the most numerous seal in the Arctic. • Adult male polar bears weigh from 775 to more that 1,500 pounds. Females are considerably smaller, normally weighing 330 to 550 pounds. • Adult male polar bears measure 6 ½ feet to 10 feet long, excluding the tail. Females measure 5 to 8 feet long, excluding the tail. • Polar bears range throughout the Arctic in areas where they can hunt seals at open leads. The 5 “polar bear nations” where the ice bears are found include the U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), and Norway. • Polar bears are superbly adapted for survival in the Far North. They are well- insulated against the cold, and they are powerful enough to hunt seals successfully. • Polar bears have a superb sense of smell. They also have excellent hearing and eyesight. These heightened senses are necessary for survival in the changing conditions of the Arctic. • Scientists estimate that there are roughly 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears throughout the Arctic. • Polar bears are champion swimmers. They have been known to swim more than 60 miles without rest. • Polar bears’ forepaws are partially webbed to assist in swimming. The massive size of the forepaws measures up to 12” in diameter. • The polar bear’s fat layer, which is 3 to 4.5 inches thick, not only protects it from the cold but adds to its buoyancy in the water. • The polar bear’s compact ears and small tail help prevent heat loss. When curled up in a ball, they often cover their muzzles to reduce heat loss as well.
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