Polar Bear Evolution

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  • 200,000 years ago, when glaciers covered most of Eurasia and the Arctic Ocean was frozen over.
  • One group of brown bears wandered off because of competition and likely became isolated in the far North by glaciers.
  • Many died of starvation but those who survived adapted to have thicker, lighter colored coats.
  • Polar bears began by scavenging on seal carcasses but later hunted them when they came up to breathe. This is an important evolutionary step.
  • Through evolutionary process the brown bears evolved to have white coats that camoflauge. They also developed jaws that are specific for eating seals instead of berries.
  • Brown bears and polar bears remain close relatives and are still able to interbreed to this day.
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