Polar bears have a natural habitat in the far north of the planet, in the arctic regions. Brown bears have a wide geographic distribution in North America and Asia. In Europe, a few specimens of them can still be seen in more mountainous and isolated areas. However, with global warming and the consequent melting of glaciers, these two species could begin to cohabit in the same space, favoring the emergence of polar bear and brown bear hybrids.
The melting of areas of the Arctic that polar bears use for food, such as seals, causes these animals to search for food in other places farther south in the polar regions. At the same time, frozen areas, previously uninhabitable for brown bears, now serve as habitat for this species. The Russian agency Tass has already reported on the geographical approach of these species in the Russian Far East, where polar bears live.
Scientists believe that the cohabitation of this place will facilitate the hybridization of the species. » Brown bears settle in the tundra. They were seen in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River, where polar bears live,” Innokentiy Okhlopkov, a scientist with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), told TASS.
Polar bear and grizzly bear hybridization background
The hybridization of these two bear species is nothing new. The first time a hybrid of a polar bear and a grizzly bear, known as a grolar bear, was seen was in 2006 in Canada. Scientists analyzed a carcass of an animal killed by hunters and observed that what had until then been considered a specimen of the polar species had very different characteristics. After DNA analysis, it turned out to be a cross between the two species.
Another hybrid specimen was found in 2010, also in Canada. The specimen, however, was the result of a cross between a brown animal and another already hybrid. This confirmed the presence of other grolar bears in the area.
Habits of these animals
Polar bears are the largest species in the family Ursidae. They are almost exclusively carnivorous animals and their diet is based on the diet of seals, but they can also feed on small mammals, birds, fish and vegetables. Meanwhile, brown bears have a varied diet, feeding on insects, fruits, and vegetation, in addition to other mammals.
Hybrid animals share characteristics of both species, which can make it easier for them to survive. Incoming experts point out that they may contribute to the extinction of polar bears due to the gene of brown bears standing out from other species.
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