Bears closer relatives than previously thought

Polar bears and brown bears, species known to produce fertile hybrids, have much more in common genetically than previously thought.

Scientists believe that shrinking sea ice at the end of the last ice age left polar bear populations stranded in southeastern Alaska. The females of these populations then mated with native Alaskan brown bears, creating hybrid species in isolation – debunking previous theories that hybridisation resulted in all polar bears having brown bear genes.

It is believed that these findings could hint at polar bear population behaviour more broadly if sea ice continues to melt at its current rate.

Read more at University of California, Santa Cruz

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