The Polar Bear Essay Research Paper INTRODUCTIONUrsus

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The Polar Bear Essay, Research Paper INTRODUCTION Ursus maritimus, commonly known as the polar bear, is quite an amazing animal. The polar bear is of the order Carnivora and of the family Ursidae. Polar bears live in the extremely cold regions of the Arctic and in Tundra. They range from Alaska to Siberia, and have been found as far as 720 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The polar bear is quite huge. They can be as tall as 8.25 feet when on all four feet, or 12 feet when standing on their hind legs and weighs up to 1,764 pounds. The polar bear is carnivorous and can be very ferocious when necessary, but is about the most gentle bear of all. Living in such a harsh climate and being strictly a meat-eater has molded the polar bear into an incredible mammal with many special

features. MOVEMENT Since polar bears are carnivores and there isn t a lot of food in the Arctic, they must be able to travel a great distance at a good speed. Looking at a polar bear you will probably notice that it is bowlegged. This means that their huge paws point inward. Having their paws in this position helps them grip the slippery ice. Another specialized feature of its paws is that they have pads of dense fur on the bottoms. Polar bears are the only bears that have this feature. These pads help the bear retain heat and to grip the ice and provide better traction. Polar bears are fast movers. When on uneven ice the bear will trot , moving its legs on opposite sides in unison. It can trot at 12 to 18 miles per hour. When it is running, it can reach speeds of up to 35 miles

per hour. The bear can travel around 50 miles on an average day. The polar bear is also an expert swimmer. The bear has a long neck with a small head which help it to be more streamlined when it is in the water. It also has partially webbed feet which help it to paddle through the frozen waters. When swimming, the polar bear propels itself with its front paws and steers with its hind paws. While it is in the water the polar bear keeps its eyes open, its ears flattened to the side of its head, and its nostrils shut off. When the bear is in water it can swim at around 3 to 6 miles per hour and can travel up to 100 miles nonstop as long as it surfaces for air every couple of minutes. FEEDING Polar bears need large amounts of food. Fully grown polar bears can hold up to 200 pounds of

food in their stomach. Polar bears eat a wide range of food. They will eat fish, walruses, dead sea animals that get washed ashore, seals, and it has even been reported that the polar bear has killed the beluga (white whale) from time to time. It has also been reported that polar bears have killed humans, but this was not for food, just self defense. The polar bear s favorite food is the ringed seal. To get this food, the polar bear obviously must be a great hunter. Since polar bears largest percent of eating is of the seal, it would be most important to discuss how the bear hunts for seal. Polar bears are intelligent hunters and know where the seals are just by looking at the areas of ice. A polar bear can even smell a baby seal through 6 feet of snow and can pick up the scent

of seal breath from a great distance. Normally, the polar bear has two types of hunting areas, above ground and underwater. Above ground, it will look for a seals breathing hole in the ice. Once it finds the hole it will just wait like a statue until the seal comes to get air. When the seal comes for air, the polar bear grabs the seal by its neck. Then it yanks it through the ice. Normally this will break most of the bones in the seals body. When the polar bear is going to hunt underwater, it will lower itself in without even making the water ripple. Then it glides through the water slowly advancing on its prey until the final lethal rush. Sometimes when a polar bear is on the edge of the water waiting to jump in and attack its prey, it will hold its nose so the seals will not