Contact: Barbara Kennedy
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. Climate change has forced polar and brown bears to share habitats. Occasionally, the two species interbreed and produce hybrid bears.
Credit: Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposures.com
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Related news release: Ancestry of polar bears traced to Ireland