What Makes Polar Bears White? Is Brown An Un-bear-able Color For Them? | Kidadl


What Makes Polar Bears White? Is Brown An Un-bear-able Color For Them?

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Polar bears are known for their iconic white fur, which has been a mystery for several years.

Polar bears belong to the Ursidae family and Ursus genus. They are mainly found in the Arctic circle.

There are currently only 26,000 polar bears in the world. Changes in the climate, coupled with man-made disturbances and other threats, have resulted in a decrease in the population of polar bears in the last 50 years. Polar bears mainly feed on ringed seals and bearded seals. They are the largest bears in the world. The polar bear has 42 teeth, three eyelids, and 4 in (10 cm) of body fat. Continue reading to know more about polar bears and their hair. You can also check out our articles on if polar bears eat penguins and polar bear adaptations.

How do polar bears look white?

One of the most attractive traits of a polar bear is its hair. For many years, it has also been a source of contention and intrigue.

A polar bear's body is coated in two layers of thick fur. Polar bears' hair is not white, but rather translucent. So, what gives them their white appearance? Some variables work together to create an optical illusion that makes the transparent hair look white. The polar bear hair shaft has hollow ends. When the light from the sun hits a polar bear's guard hair, some of the light rays travel through these hairs and are trapped in the hair. The energy from the light uses the hollow parts filled with air in the hair as a surface from which it can bounce back. There are tiny light scattering particles in polar bear hairs which are not visible to the naked eye. Due to all the bouncing light, the hair emits a whitish glow. This helps polar bears to blend into their habitat. The human eye can only perceive certain light wavelengths. Ultraviolet light helps make polar bear fur visible to us. When sunlight hits a polar bear, the ultraviolet rays in the light strike the bottom parts of the guard hair. The light meets the black skin of the animal. The skin reflects this light. Because of fluorescence, which occurs when the light meets the skin, the white color is formed and picked up by the eye. They appear whiter in summer when they replace their fur. Polar bears can actually be a different color for other animals that can perceive different light wavelengths that go undetected by the human eye. There is no sound theory to prove this, but the probability is not zero.

What color is a polar bear's skin?

The skin color of a polar bear is black.

The color black is the most effective at absorbing solar radiation. So when you take off their fur, they look somewhat like grizzly bears (a close relative of the polar bear) but darker.

What abiotic factor causes a polar bear to have white fur?

The first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word bear is a black or brown colored large animal. Almost 90% of the bears in the world are brown or black with polar bears being the only exception. What makes polar bears special? Why do they have white fur?

Polar bears depend on their fur to a great extent. In fact, they cannot survive without it. The major abiotic factor that influences the fur color of a polar bear is snow. Polar bears are large animals that easily stand out due to their gigantic size. This might be a problem when it comes to hunting. Polar bears mainly depend on seals to survive in the Arctic. In order to hunt their prey without going notices, they use the fur to blend into the snow and ice caps. This acts as a camouflage and helps them hide better. It also increases the chance of finding and hunting their prey.

Polar bears belong to the Ursidae family

How does a polar bear use its white coat?

The white coat of polar bears comes in handy in a variety of situations. They use it for two main reasons.

Polar bears are found in the Arctic region. The Arctic region is one of the coldest places on Earth. It is covered with snow and ice caps. The temperature in the Arctic region is −40 F (−40 C). Polar bears have thick fur that provides insulation. The thick coat keeps them warm and helps them survive the harsh cold. Their white hair also helps in heat absorption.

The white appearance also helps polar bears to blend into the environment. Since they spend most of their time in snow, this will protect them from predators.

Why did polar bears evolve from brown to white bears?

The evolution of polar bears from brown to white is related to survival instincts. It is believed that transparent hair allows to trap and absorb heat from the sun. Polar bears are actually brown bears that turned white.

The Arctic Ocean was frozen 200,000 years ago. In this difficult era, brown bears scattered in search of food. During this time, a particular set of polar bears were stuck in the northern territory and were separated from their other brown bear ancestors. The massive ice caps and snow kept the two groups separated. Some bears in the northern region, with evolutionary advantages and thick coats, survived the harsh winters while others died. Some bears even had hairs that repelled water! This helped them swim. This bear group evolved and gained some features which were suitable for the Arctic climate and helped them stay warm over the next 1000 years. Their fur also turned clear to help them blend in with the ice and snow-filled environment and offered them an edge while hunting.

So, what color are polar bears?

Polar bears are the largest carnivores in the world. However, polar bears are just the size of a guinea pig when they are born. They are yellow when they are born, over time they change their color to white.

Surprisingly, the polar bear comes in different colors. Yes, polar bears can be white, yellow or even green in color. As they have hollow air spaces in their hair, the color of the fur can be affected by factors like diet, lighting, climate, and algae growth.

A polar bear may appear yellow. They attain this form due to large amounts of oil in the food they consume. Polar bears that are found in zoos or warmer regions can become green. This is due to the growth of algae inside the hollow spaces present in their hair.

Protecting The Arctic

The ice in the arctic is melting at double the rate when compared to the rest of the planet. The seasonal sea ice, which acts as home to several species, is rapidly vanishing. According to the reports of experts, the Arctic will be untraceable by the end of 2037. The melting ice is not just affecting the people and animals of the arctic but also the entire ecosystem, which impacts people throughout the world.

We could still prevent this if we take proper measures. Experts from different parts of the world believe that are five major things that will help protect and save the arctic from completely disappearing.

Financing research to understand the factors that are affecting the ice and coming up with ideas that will help prevent it and the various outcomes of it is the first step.

Putting science into use and creating technologies that will aid in lowering the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will also come in handy.

One of the scientists/engineers has suggested an alternative approach to prevent or rather delay the melting of ice in the arctic by scattering tiny glass beads throughout the region, which will help scatter the sunlight.

Emission of other harmful compounds, such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons must also be restricted.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what makes polar bears white then why not take a look at if polar bears live in Antarctica or polar bear facts?

Written By
Joan Agie

<p>With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.</p>

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