Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cool Bear News

Polar bears have maternal Irish brown bear ancestors

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

The maternal ancestors of modern polar bears were from Ireland, according to a DNA study of ancient brown bear bones.

Scientists in the UK, Ireland and the US analysed the teeth and skeletons of 17 brown bears that were found at eight cave sites across Ireland.

The new research has been reported in the latest edition of Current Biology.

Previously, it was believed that today's polar bears were most closely related to brown bears living on islands off the coast of Alaska.

However, analysis of mitochondrial DNA - which is passed from mother to child - has shown the extinct Irish brown bears are the descendants of all today's polar bears, the scientists said.

Their work provides evidence of the two species mating opportunistically during the past 100,000 years or more.

More at ~


Pat C. said...

Sure an' we can be lookin' for Paul O'Bear to droppin' by Dante's for a pint?

Savanna Kougar said...

Yep, a whole clan of Irish Polar Bears could be droppin' in for a pint, or two... or three... no wonder they die the poor critters green for St. Patrick's day.

Savanna Kougar said...

Oops! Dye, instead of die... talk about a Freudian slip of some kind...

Rebecca Gillan said...

Descendants? Or predecessors? Pretty cool either way!

Savanna Kougar said...

Yep, cool either way. But, it should probably be predecessors instead of descendants in the article... or ancestors... wow, the English language is being misused like crazy these days.

Rebecca Gillan said...

LOL! Sorry, couldn't resist, once I noticed it. I've been told writers are some of the worst hecklers for journalists. :)

Rebecca Gillan said...

Just noticed that they fixed the actual article to say "ancestors." I must not have been their only heckler!

Savanna Kougar said...

Rebecca, ya know, I should have noticed that. My only defense is that I was so intrigued with the findings, I started envisioning scenarios of how the bears got together, and what it means for human history as well.

Pat C. said...

I saw on some nature show recently - either on PBS or NatGeo or something - that polar bears were descendants of brown bears, but I didn't know the brown bears were Irish. That makes it even better.

Pat Cunningham
Herself of Irish descent, though not always bare

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, yeah, it mentioned in the above article that it was originally thought that Polar Bears were related to Alaskan Brown Bears. It was a surprise to the DNA scientists that was not true. The ancestors were Irish Brown Bears.

So, it goes... ~smiles~

Savanna, herself of some Irish descent, with a preference of for being bare in the sunshine.