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The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak Bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi). A boar (adult male) weighs around 350–700 kg (770–1,540 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Their scientific name means "maritime bear", and derives from this fact. Polar bears hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations in decline. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures.
Very stocky and large in appearance. Polar bears are known for their bright, white coats of fur.
- ^ "Ursus maritimus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2008.
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- ^ Phipps, pg. 185
- ^ "Polar bear, (Ursus maritimus)" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife service. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
Appearance. The polar bear is the largest member of the bear family, with the exception of Alaska's Kodiak brown bears, which equal polar bears in size.(Overview page)
- ^ Kindersley, Dorling (2001). Animal. New York City: DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
- ^ Template:MSW3 Carnivora
- ^ Gunderson, Aren (2007). "Ursus Maritimus". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 27 October 2007.
- ^ IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, 2009.15th meeting of PBSG in Copenhagen, Denmark 2009: Press Release. Retrieved 10 January 2010.