Tips&TricksPolar bear's adaptability: size, UV absorbing fur, and underwater hunting prowess

Polar bear's adaptability: size, UV absorbing fur, and underwater hunting prowess

A polar bear with offspring.
A polar bear with offspring.
Images source: © Freepik | gudkov
8:27 AM EST, January 13, 2024

The polar bear is a paradoxical creature. It's often perceived as a "killing machine," yet scientists recognize it as a nurturing parent willing to risk its life for its offspring. It's fascinating to note that the polar bear has evolved over centuries and acquired abilities that other bears lack. But what distinguishes it from other species in its family?

Remarkable attributes of the polar bear

The conditions in the northern hemisphere can be sterile. Many animals would not last a day in the frosty desert, a dangerous area where only the fittest survive. The polar bear, however, has managed to adapt to these local conditions, honing its survival skills over time. Among these is the remarkable ability to hunt underwater, which terrestrial bears cannot do.

Adult polar bears can grow up to nine feet in length and weigh approximately 1,102 pounds. Females are generally smaller, but the difference is not remarkable. Besides their imposing size, polar bears boast a thick layer of fur, even between their paw pads.

In addition, one unique feature not seen in other species is the webbing on their feet, which aids their movement underwater. Another intriguing scientific discovery is that polar bear fur absorbs UV radiation. The reason behind this is unclear, but it's hypothesized that this trait supports their regeneration and strength recovery, which seems logical given their harsh environment.

Surprisingly, polar bear fur isn't actually white!

The color of polar bear fur we perceive is merely an optical illusion caused by light's refraction and the effect of UV rays. The bear's fur is transparent due to the colorless core of each hair strand. This transparency explains why the fur appears yellowish in summer and may even seem green for captive bears.

The apparent color change can be explained scientifically. Polar bear fur provides a perfect habitat for the growth of algae and moss due to the right temperature and humidity conditions. Captive bears often undergo unique treatments to lighten the fur and eliminate the green hues.

The bear's fur is not white.
The bear's fur is not white.© Freepik | erik-karits-2093459
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