Ancestry of Polar Bears Traced to Ireland (1 of 3) (image) Penn State Share Print E-Mail Caption An international team of scientists has discovered that the female ancestor of all living polar bears was a brown bear that lived in the vicinity of present-day Britain and Ireland just prior to the peak of the last ice age -- 20,000 to 50,000 years ago. The research is expected to help guide future conservation efforts for polar bears, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The research team concluded that all living polar bears trace their maternal ancestor to a brown bear that lived near present-day Britain and Ireland just prior to the last ice age. Credit Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposures.com Usage Restrictions The photo credit must be published along with the photo. Share Print E-Mail Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.