Polar bears are thought-about the most important land-based carnivores on the planet, they usually have the heft and energy to take down a variety of prey, together with seals, walruses, and even the occasional reindeer or muskox. But, relying on the way you measure or whom you ask, polar bears won’t even be thought-about the most important species of bear. How can that be?

Nicely, for starters, not all bears are strict carnivores. Additionally, there’s a couple of method to outline “large.” Weight (most or common), top (on all fours or standing), and cranium dimension (as measured by big-game scoring methods just like the one employed by Boone and Crockett Membership) can all be used to evaluate a bear’s dimension. So, given all these variables, precisely how large is a polar bear? Let’s break it down.

How Massive Is a Polar Bear By Weight?

To know how large a polar bear can get, take into account that the most important polar bear ever killed is considered a 2,209-pound behemoth taken on Alaska’s Kotzebue Sound. An iconic {photograph} of the mounted bear towering over the hunter who introduced it down ran in Sports activities Illustrated journal in 1960, and two years later the mount featured prominently within the Alaska exhibit on the Seattle World’s Honest.

Presumably a male, since males of the species sometimes get bigger than females, this bear was clearly an outlier. Extra sometimes, male polar bears prime out round 1,700 kilos, and females can vary as much as 1,000 kilos. Weight can differ vastly relying on time of 12 months, rising by as a lot as 50 p.c after a profitable searching season. Common weights throughout the species are nearer to 600 to 1,200 kilos for males and 400 to 700 kilos for females.

How Massive Is a Polar Bear By Top?

A younger polar bear stands tall on two toes. roberthardingrobertharding / Adobe Inventory

The Kotzebue bear’s top is listed anyplace from 11-feet-1 to 12-feet-9, relying the place on the interwebs you browse. Once more, that bear was clearly an outlier. Extra generally, polar bears stand about 5 toes excessive on the shoulder and measure about 7 to eight toes lengthy from nostril to tail, though the most important males could attain 9 to 10 toes when standing on their hind legs. Like most bears, they’ll stroll on two legs for brief distances, however polar bears spend most of their time on all fours. A strolling polar bear strikes about 3 miles per hour. A sprinting polar bear can obtain a velocity of 25 miles per hour for brief distances, which rivals that of the slowest galloping horse. Polar bears are good swimmers, too, shifting quicker within the water—6 miles per hour—than strolling on land. They’ve been noticed swimming greater than 300 miles from the closest shore.

How Massive Is a Polar Bear By Cranium Measurement?

The world-record polar bear, in accordance with the Boone and Crockett Membership, which makes use of cranium size when figuring out if a bear qualifies for its big-game file e book, was shot in 1963 by a hunter named Shelby Longoria together with his information, John Swiss. That bear additionally got here from close to Kotzebue (which has produced six of the highest 9 Boone and Crockett polar bears) and was taken practically 100 miles offshore on pack ice. The cranium scored 29 15/16 inches.

The B&C world file Alaska Brown Bear, by comparability, featured a cranium that scored 30 12/16 inches. That raises an attention-grabbing query: How large is a polar bear in comparison with different bears—particularly its closest evolutionary ancestor, the brown bear.

Polar Bears vs Brown Bears

Kodiak bear on left with height and weight stats; polar bear on right with same
By most measurements, polar bears are slightly larger than even the most important brown bears. Adobe Inventory / Subject & Stream

There’s really some disagreement on which bear species is the most important. Alaska Brown Bears (also referred to as Kodiak Bears due to their focus on the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago) are typically touted as the most important bear species. They will stand 10 toes tall and weigh as a lot as 1,500 kilos. Their extensively numerous eating regimen consists of massive quantities of vegetation like grasses and berries, which suggests they’re categorized as omnivores and aren’t a risk to steal the polar bear’s crown as largest land-based carnivore.

Some particular person Kodiak bears—that are well-known for loading up on salmon within the fall as they pile on weight to organize for hibernation and vie for Fats Bear Week honors—can rival particular person polar bears in dimension. The most important wild brown bear on file, in accordance with the Guinness E book of Animal Details and Feats, weighed 1,656 kilos. A Kodiak bear named Clyde who lived at a North Dakota zoo reportedly weighed 2,130 kilos and measured 9.8 toes tall when he died in 1987 on the age of twenty-two.

Polar bears are thought to have developed from grizzly bears to adapt to the calls for of surviving within the icy north, they usually did so pretty quickly in evolutionary time—inside the final 500,000 years. The thicker pores and skin, denser fur, and larger ranges of insulating fats wanted to outlive within the Arctic Circle created a heavier bear, which necessitated adjustments in gait and foot construction to make sure secure journey on ice. To raised pursue their favourite prey, seals, they developed elongated skulls (that are simpler to poke by slim holes within the ice) that, though weaker structurally than a brown bear’s cranium, create a a lot stronger chew drive: 1,200 kilos per sq. inch in comparison with the grizzly’s 975 kilos per sq. inch.

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