Polar Vs. Brown Bear
There are eight different species of bears found throughout the world: the spectacled bear, the Asiatic black bear, the brown bear (including grizzlies), the polar bear, the sun bear, the American black bear, the sloth bear, and the giant panda. Even though most people can distinguish a polar bear from a brown bear by the color of the fur, a lot of people fail to identify all the differences between those two species.
Both bears can be perceived as large, clumsy, and lumbering beasts with heavily built bodies but short legs, necks, and tails. Both of them have rounded ears and noticeably small eyes relative to their large body size. While both of the bears belong to the same family, they have several profound differences. They live in different geographical areas, and differ in the amount of population, size, physical features, eating habits, and behavior toward human beings.
The polar bear is found in all of the polar regions of the entire northern hemisphere. This includes Russia, Norway, Greenland, The United States, and Canada. Their preferred habitat is in the area where the northern seas meet the shoreline. In this area, there is constant freezing and thawing of the ice. It is estimated that there are currently somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 polar bears. The polar bear is the largest member of the bear family, weighing in at between 440 and 1760 pounds with an overall body length of 11.5 feet. It can grow much larger, however.
In fact, there is a record of an adult polar bear weighing over 2200 pounds. Polar bears have distinctive all-white fur which is important camouflage when hunting on the ice pack. The actual color of the skin is black which is thought to be an adaptation for better heat retention. Compared to the other bears, the neck of the polar bear is much longer. This makes it easier for them to keep their heads above water when swimming. Like those of other bears, the ears of the polar bear are round.
They are, however, smaller and closer to the head. This also helps the animal to be an exceptional swimmer. The forepaws on a polar bear are very large. With a diameter approaching 12 inches and partial webbing between their toes, polar bears are able to use their front feet much like paddles to propel them rapidly through the water. Polar bears are excellent swimmers.
They are able to swim distances greater than 60 miles without a pause to rest, maintaining an average speed of 6 miles per hour. On land, they are not as quick as brown bears and appear to have traded off speed for their extremely massive forelegs which they use to break through seal dens and flip a large seal out of the water. Polar bears have also developed large stomachs with a capacity of more than 150 pounds of food.
Their digestive system is also more adapted for processing meat than plant material because they are almost exclusively meat eaters. While out on the ice, their diet consists mostly of marine mammals such as ringed seals, bearded seals, and occasionally walruses or narwhals. Also, in keeping with their carnivorous nature, the canine teeth, used for seizing and holding prey, are longer, sharper, and spaced wider apart than in brown bears. Polar bears are at the top of the arctic food chain with no natural enemies.
Because of that, compared to other bears, polar bears are the most aggressive and more willing to consider humans as prey. In other words, when they see a human, they see a walking meal. Consequently, the person attacked is usually killed unless the bear is killed first. The most carnivorous, they are also the most patient and determined all of the bears. In some instances, they may follow a person for hundreds of miles in order to hunt him down. Out of eight species polar bear is considered to be the most dangerous to human beings. The brown bear has the most widespread distribution in the world of any of the eight bear species.
They are found throughout most of the northern hemisphere including North America and Eurasia. Their preferred habitat includes mountain forests, open meadows, and large river valleys. It is estimated that there are currently somewhere between 125,000 to 150,000 brown bears throughout the world. The brown bear is one largest bear species, yet considerably smaller than the polar bear. It weighs between 300 and 860 and can be up to 9.5 feet in total body length depending on the availability of food. Brown bears can run and climb with considerable skill, speed, and dexterity.
They are able to attain speeds of 35 miles per hour for a short distances. They are also capable swimmers. The brown bear distinguishes itself from other bears by virtue of its shoulder hump, which is caused by muscles that are used for digging. The front claws are approximately 1.7 times longer than the rear claws and are generally visible even from distance. The color of the animal varies from a light creamy color to almost black. Brown bears are omnivorous, eating a mixed diet of grasses, fruits, bulbs and roots, insects, fish, and small animals. In a few areas, there are known to be predators of larger animals such as caribou and moose.
Each of the brown bears has a different temperament rather than humans. Some will attack, and others will not. Some bears are scared of humans, others will have a natural curiosity. Brown bears may be very dangerous. However, most of the time they are more likely to attack when defending cubs or territory. A stalking brown bear is even a rare occasion.
Even though polar and brown bears have a lot in common they differ in many ways such as the amount of population, size, areas of living, physical characteristics, and attitudes toward people. Scientists have studied these magnificent animals for many years, but there is still much to learn about them. They are very complex and fascinating creatures that deserve great respect.