Polar Bear

Evolution Mini-Research Project
by Stephanie Tran

The Latin/Scientific name: Ursus Maritimus

Describe the environment the plant/animal lives in: In the Arctic ocean, cold air, and water.

What does the plant/animal look like today? They're white, filled with lots of fur to warm them, they have webbed feet that somehow stops them from sticking to the ice.

What did the first plant/animal look like over 100 years ago? They evolved from the brown and/or the grizzly bear.. I'm guessing they looked like grizzly bears and other different kinds of bears.

What adaptions does it have to survive in its environment? They're very talented swimmers, they can sustain a pace of six miles per hour by paddling with their front paws and holding their hind legs flat like a rudder.

Describe its fitness to the environment: They have a thick layer of body fat and a water-repellent coat that isolates them from cold air and water.

Does it "struggle for existence"? Yes, it does struggle struggle for existence. It struggles of ongoing and potential loss of their sea ice habitat resulting from climate change, polar bears were listed as a threatened species in the U.S., across their range, under the endangered species act in May 2006. It also will be instinct due to global warming.

Does it go through natural or artificial selection? From what I have read, I am sure that it goes through natural selection. One of my reasons for why I think they go through natural selection is because polar bears hunt for their own food instead of humans giving them the food.

What, if any, natural variation occurred with the organism? From what I understand, a Brown bear, Asiatic bear, American black bear, Gobi bear, & the Apennine brown bear are all similar to each other.

Does the organism have any homologous structures or vestigial organs? If so, what are they? A polar bear is definitely a vestigial structure.

In about 50 years the polar bear could be extinct. WWL states, "As climate change forces polar bears to spend longer time onshore, they come in contact more often with Arctic coastal communities and others working in the Arctic. Unfortunately, these interactions sometimes end badly for both humans and bears." I am guessing that if these conditions keep up we will no longer have an polar bears.

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