Polar bear

Some animals are so unique in nature that there are no educated people on our planet who would not know them. One such animal is the polar bear. It is very different from its closest relatives in appearance and habitat. This is far from the most numerous species of bears, and this makes it even more interesting.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Polar Bear

Photo: Polar Bear

According to recent studies, scientists have concluded that the polar bear, as a species, appeared quite recently through rapid evolution. The age of the species is estimated at only 150 thousand years. Although one cannot completely rely on this information, because the collection of the genetic material of a given animal has its own difficulties. It is very rare to find remains in the ice, perhaps a lot about these animals is still stored there.

So, the polar bear belongs to the class of mammals, the order of predators, the suborder of canids, the bear family, the genus of bears. It is also called a polar bear, less often northern or sea. It is believed that polar bears evolved from brown bears during evolution and adaptation to the northern polar latitudes.

Video: Polar bear

Already in this century, evidence of the existence of an intermediate species — giant polar bear, its bones are one and a half times larger than those of the modern one, the finds are limited to a few bones. The DNA of this species is similar to that of both the brown bear and the modern polar bear. Therefore, it can be considered an intermediate link in evolution.

The diversity of species in the course of evolution is excluded, animals are very limited by living conditions and the type of food. This is one of the most powerful and dangerous predators. Its body is very massive: it reaches 3 meters in length and up to 1.5 meters at the withers. The weight of such an animal is very large: in the largest males it is 800 & # 8212; 1000 kg, females are much smaller and the largest of them are almost 400 kg.

Appearance and features

Photo: Animal polar bear

Photo: Animal polar bear

Polar bears are large, heavy animals. The head is small, elongated, slightly flattened compared to the body. The eyes are round and set closer to the nose. The relief of the skull is clearly visible above the eyes, here the bear has the thinnest fat layer. The ears are short, rounded, small. The nose is elongated, similar to a dog's. The neck of the polar bear differs from other species in length, it is extended forward and rather thin near the head. Below the neck expands, passes into the body. It is very large in a bear, additional volume is created by thick, long, coarse wool and undercoat.

His paws are especially powerful. With one blow, a bear can kill its prey, if it is not large in size. Surprisingly, despite the weightiness of the limbs, he is very dexterous and runs fast. Watching the polar bear from the side, it can even be called graceful and graceful. Between the fingers on the front paws, bears have membranes, they help to make powerful strokes, with their help the animals swim excellently. The body ends in a small white tail.

Polar bears are adapted to live in incredible cold, among ice floes and snows, and swim in cold waters. Nature provided them with a thick layer of fat, reaching 13 cm.

The skin of bears is thick, black, it is clearly visible on the paws, and on the soles, as it turned out, there is wool. This allows the bears to move boldly and not slide on the ice. And the most obvious is wool, it is dense, cruel, two-layered, thick — also protects the bear from the harsh climate.

Where does the polar bear live?

Photo: Polar Bear Red Book

Photo: Polar Bear Red Book book

The cold is familiar to the bear, thanks to him this species appeared, and life in such conditions suits him. An ocean must be present near the habitat. Bears do not go far towards land, but they can safely swim on ice floes. Surprisingly, these animals can swim even a hundred kilometers from the coast.

The record distance that a bear sailed from the coast was recorded as 600 km. In the water, of course, they hope to catch their prey. That is why they are sometimes called marine.

The maximum number of individuals live on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. These northern bears inhabit the coldest islands in the world, for example, the islands of Canada and Greenland, the islands of all the northern seas washing Eurasia, namely: the Barents Sea, Chukchi, East Siberian, Okhotsk and Kara, the Laptev Sea and the Beaufort Sea. The southernmost habitats of polar bears are the territory of Alaska and the coast of Norway. It is not uncommon for bears to come close to infrastructure during hungry days in search of food, this is often reported in the news.

In captivity, bears are kept in enclosures with a large pool. They need water all the time, especially in summer. When it's hot at the zoo, you can often see how a polar bear jumps into the water, swims, plays in it, and comes out on land only to plop down again.

What does it eat polar bear?

Photo: Polar Bear

Photo: Polar Bear

Polar Bears & #8212; the largest predators, they need a large amount of food. Due to the harsh climatic conditions in which they live, the diet of these animals is extremely limited — after all, only those animals that live in the same conditions can be among the victims of a bear, and there are not so many of them and they are found mainly in water.

The main food of bears can be listed on the fingers:

  • Harp seals;
  • Ringed seals;
  • Sea hares;
  • Young walruses;
  • Narwhals;
  • Belugas;
  • Fish;
  • Carrion;
  • Bird eggs.

They hunt mammals on ice floes, watch outside, and then jam the prey, or plunge their heads into the water and grab them with their teeth. The most preferred, of course, seals and seals. Eating an animal, they first absorb the skin and subcutaneous fat, the rest according to their appetite. On average, up to 10 kg of food is enough for them to satisfy their hunger. But if a bear, after long wanderings or hibernation, then he is ready to eat everything and completely, he is able to absorb as much as 20 kg of food.

In the summer, it is difficult for bears to feed in some areas, due to melting and waste glaciers from which they hunt. This forces them to travel deep into the mainland in search of bird nests, small animals, or even cesspools and dumps.

It happens that bears go through a hunger strike. The longest can last up to four months. But animals are ready for this too, their fat reserves serve not only as heating, but also as a source of nutrients for the hungry period.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Large polar bear

Photo: Great Polar Bear

The two main needs of polar bears are food and sleep. And this is not surprising in such a cold climate. The animal spends a lot of time on the ice, hunting and eating its victims. Hunting is their life. They loiter along the shore, looking for young walruses. Having found a small individual, the bear carefully creeps up to it. The white color helps a lot here, it masks the bear against the backdrop of snow. Once within a dozen meters from the target, the bear rushes towards its prey with a sharp jump. But adult walruses are still too tough for them, and in the water they can even fight.

After a meal, a bear can sleep for several hours, after which it goes hunting again. This is necessary in order to stock up on fat, because even the Arctic Ocean has its own hardships. Surprisingly, this — thaw, all the ice moves away from the coast, this makes it impossible for the bear to hunt and forces it to seek its meager food on land.

In males and non-pregnant females, the life is as follows: hunting and sleeping alternate. They may hibernate for the winter, but this is not necessary. And if the bear lay down in the den, then this is not for long. Sleep can last from one month to three, and then — hunting again.

Pregnant females hibernate without fail, and for a long period, from October to April. The average lifespan of a polar bear in the wild is 20 — 30 years. Polar bears are accustomed to a life without frills. All living creatures living nearby — potential food. Therefore, the beast can attack both humans and dogs.

Bear hunters have long noted the unusual attachment of mothers to offspring in these animals. Several cases have been recorded when a she-bear remains howling and licking the dead cubs, ignoring the impending danger to herself. And also manifestations of strong aggression against the killers are known.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Polar Bear Cubs

Photo: Polar Bear Cubs

Polar bears — loners by nature, both males and females. They can roam and hunt close to each other, but do not have much contact. When the mating season begins for animals, and this is spring, March — June, males can adapt to females and engage in battles with other males. Each mature female may be accompanied by several mature males. She mates with one who wins.

Pregnancy lasts about eight months. During this time, the females manage to organize a lair for themselves and go into hibernation. By spring, from one to three cubs are born, but most often there are two of them. The weight of one baby is less than a kilogram, and there is no hair. In twenty percent of cases, babies die. Up to a month, cubs are completely blind, they develop very slowly and need maternal warmth and care. The lactation period in polar bears lasts up to one and a half years. Even up to two years, cubs can stay with their mother, then they begin to lead a solitary life.

Females become sexually mature from the age of four, but sometimes they can bring their first offspring as much as eight years old. Males reach maturity sooner by the age of five or even later. A mother bear dedicates a total of three years to pregnancy and nursing. This is the most successful option when females give birth every three years. But in nature, of course, difficulties regularly occur and females become pregnant less often. Therefore, it is quite difficult to increase the number of polar bears.

Natural enemies of polar bears

Photo: Siberian polar bear

Photo: Siberian polar bear

Among the inhabitants of the north The polar bear does not have many enemies. There are more than few who can cope with an adult. However, it happens that during swimming and diving, while the bear itself is hunting, it can be attacked by adult walruses with huge tusks, and sometimes killer whales — large marine predators.

Speaking about the enemies of polar bears, it is rather worth noting how dangerous their cubs can be. They are so helpless that, being at a distance from their mother, they can easily become the prey of all terrestrial predators:

  • Volkov;
  • Arctic foxes;
  • Dogs;
  • Birds of Prey.

If the mother was noticed or went away for prey, the cubs are immediately in danger, unreasonable and stupid, they themselves can rush towards death. Even being officially protected, bears often become victims of poachers. Man was, is and remains the main enemy of polar bears.

Population and species status

Photo: Polar Bear from the Red Book

Photo: Polar Bear from the Red Book

The total number of polar bears is, according to the latest data, 20 — 25 thousand individuals. However, scientists predict a decrease in numbers by a third by 2050.

Territorially, three populations of polar bears are distinguished:

  • Chukotka-Alaska;
  • Kara-Barents Sea ;
  • Laptevskaya.

In Russia, polar bears are listed in the Red Book, under the status of a vulnerable species. The increase in the number of polar bears is doubtful: they breed slowly, and the death toll does not fall. Despite the prohibitions on shooting bears, many become victims of poachers for the sake of their skins and even just for the thrill of hunting. Moreover, the physical condition of the animals is deteriorating.

Scientists predict warming, which does not bode well for this species. From the melting of ice, bears lose their main habitat and hunting, starve and die prematurely, without even having time to leave offspring. Over the past decades, the ecology of the habitat has deteriorated, which also affects the number of populations and reduces the life span of individuals.

Protection of polar bears

Photo: Polar bear animal

Photo: Polar bear animal

A long time ago, having discovered these amazing animals, hunters exterminated bears for meat and skins. The beast was unique, the skin is incomparable to anyone else. But with the development of science and the spread of interest in nature among people, the desire to preserve the species diversity of animals began to be protected by law.

Since the middle of the 20th century, hunting for polar bears has been prohibited in Russia. In Alaska, Canada and Greenland, there are special quotas for bear hunting. These quotas from year to year — differ, depending on the assumptions and calculations of scientists.

In 1973, an agreement was concluded between the countries with the largest populations of bears on their protection. Hunting them has become a criminal offense, with the exception of the traditional rituals of the indigenous Arctic population.

Also, in order to increase the number of individuals of the animal, a reserve was founded on Wrangel Island in 1976, this place was chosen by the bears themselves to bear offspring . Already in the 21st century, an agreement was concluded between Russia and the United States on the preservation of the population of the Chukchi-Alaska type. Despite all efforts, the forecast for the number of bears for years to come — sad. Despite all the efforts of people, there are those who break all the rules and exterminate the bears. Global warming is depriving animals of good food, and environmental pollution is bad for their health.

Now people have more opportunities and desire to help animals in nature. This gives hope that the polar bear will feel better and perhaps in the coming years there will be an increase in numbers.

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