According to a new study, the first polar bear lived in Ireland about 100,000 years ago and the animal was brown in color.
Scientists conducted a genetic study of the polar Bears and maternal ancestry of modern polar bears to a female brown bear that lived in the vicinity of Britain and Ireland before the peak of the last ice age.
During the ice age, polar bears and brown bears interbred regularly. The study comes at a time when some hybrids of brown bears and polar bears have been spotted in the Arctic region. Scientists believe that interbreeding is strategy for long term survival of the species to survive the rapid melting in the Arctic region in the summer months.
Beth Shapiro of the Pennsylvania State University, who led the study said, "We found that brown bears and polar bears, which are hybridising today in the wild, have been hybridising opportunistically throughout the last 100,000 years and probably longer."
The team collected DNA samples from the mitochondria from bear fossils, which allowed them to trace the evolutionary history of the maternal line of the bears by comparing it to the geographical movements.
The study has been published in the journal Current Biology.
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