Ancient DNA suggests polar bears evolved recently | Science News



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Ancient DNA suggests polar bears evolved recently

Rare fossil shows creatures are most closely related to modern-day brown bears in Alaska

5:35pm, March 1, 2010

The polar bear probably evolved no more than 150,000 years ago and is most closely related to brown bears that now live in southeastern Alaska, new genetic analyses of a rare fossil suggest.

Ursus maritimus, the polar bear, is a specialized predator that — ignoring the bears that forage for garbage in towns and villages along the Arctic coast — hunts solely on sea ice.

Several previous studies agreed that polar bears are closely related to brown bears but provided widely divergent answers about when polar bears first evolved, with estimates ranging between 70,000 and 1 million years ago, says Charlotte Lindqvist, an evoluti

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