It’s really easy to tell when a zoo polar bear is hot because its very demeanor is droopy and tired. It tends to hide from the sun like the sun is bringing plague. Figuring out the genetic makeup of a polar bear is, apparently, far more difficult. It requires great minds and a little bit of good fortune.

Out in the big, wide world, scientists have had trouble finding wild polar bears species to study. This is because of three big factors. First, there aren’t a lot of polar bears. Second, the polar bears do not leave a lot of traces, including footprints, to study on the ice. Third, when polar bears die, they often do so in bodies of water leaving behind no carcasses. Now, that DNA is able to be studied, scientists have stumbled on a goldmine, a goldmine that tells us polar bears evolved around 600,000 years ago from brown bears and the two species still intermittently mate.

Yes, polar bears are related to brown bears and yes, they still sometimes procreate. According to The NY Times, polar bears and brown bears continue to mate when the weather is generally warm and brown bears move north, while polar bears are forced to avoid ice. A study done by the University of Buffalo has confirmed this, finding nearly 2% of the DNA from polar bears in brown bears. However, on an island off of the coast of Alaska, the two species of bears share a whopping 5%-10% of DNA.

We may be concerned about the welfare of polar bears, but there is one thing for certain, bears are learning to survive and adapt, and I am certain we will see more of it in the future, although hopefully not in a Coca-Cola commercial.

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