Polar bear Adaptation

High School ・Biology ・MLA

The polar bear whose scientific name is Ursus maritimus is the biggest predator in the world. They have a short tail, weigh up to 600kg (1300 lb) and mass up to 3m tall (approximately 10ft). Their fur seems to be white or yellow at first sight, but a closer look reveals them (fur) to be transparent and hollow and their skin black. They live an average of twenty-five years and reach sexual maturity at about four years. They have an estimated population of about 20,000 to 25,000 in the world. The natural habitat of the polar bear is on the northern coasts and the Arctic waters north of Alaska, Norway, Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The Polar bear’s body is different from all the other bears. They have long nails that are designed to help them walk on snow and ice.

Their big bodies help them to retain their body heat; large animals have a higher volume to surface area ratio making them lose less heat through their skin. The polar bear’s small ears and tail have a small surface area which helps them to maintain their body warmth. Polar bears have a large layer of fat that is around 4 inches thick which also aids in the keeping of heat. Small cubs are usually vulnerable to cold, but the milk from their mother helps them to gain weight faster. The milk from polar bears is extremely rich in fat and protein making it easier for small cubs to put on weight quickly. Unlike the other bears that eat whatever they can find, polar bears diet is composed of only high-calorie foods like meat and fat which is usually from seals and the carcasses of whales. They only eat seaweed when they are stuck on shore in desperation. The high-calorie diet helps to build their fat layer which aids in maintaining body warmth. Their undercoat is thick and very dense; it insulates them from cold even when they are in the water. Apart from their fur helping them to maintain heat it also helps as a camouflage among the snow and ice because of the bright white color.

The polar bears have huge paws which when they are on a land act like snowshoes, spreading the weight of the bear to help them move on soft snow and thin ice. The paws also keep the polar bear from slipping while on the ice. Their paws have footpads that are covered by small soft bumps called papillae and claws that are short, curved, and thick. The paws as well are covered in fur for the purpose of traction and warmth. Polar bears usually process their stored body fat which they use for energy they then combine it with oxygen, so as to release metabolic water and carbon dioxide. Their natural habitat is mostly cold, so it has little access to fresh water during the cold months. By processing their body fat, they can get extra clean water.

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The anatomy of the polar bear makes them be excellent swimmers making them swim even 200 miles away from dry land. When hibernating polar bears are unlike other bears so when a female is pregnant, it enters into a dominant state. After the mating season in spring, the female polar bear ingests large amounts of food and builds a maternity den in a snowdrift as it waits to deliver its cubs. The polar bears are becoming vulnerable because of the global warming that is reducing masses of ice giving them limited access to seals.

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