Though polar bears did not originate in Ireland, all may have a maternal line to one ancestral female brown bear in Ireland-

Today’s sophisticated genetic analysis keeps finding the most interesting bits of biological history.

DNA hints at polar bears’ Irish ancestry. By Susan Miliu. Science News.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

6 Responses to All polar bears may have some Irish ancestry

  1. JEFF E says:

    don’t we all?

  2. PointsWest says:

    That is interesting but I’ll bet any brown bear bone fossils of the right age found in Eurasia north of about the 60th parallel would have a genetic connection to polar bears. The British Isles were connected to the continent during Pleistocene so bears in what is now Ireland would be the same species as those elsewhere on the continent and would have roamed around.

    It will be interesting to see how many mysteries can be solved with genetics in the coming years. I have watched several BBC programs where questions about history are being answered by genetics, ie, how extensive were the viking invasions, how many Normans were involved in the Norman Conquest, and what was the extent of the Celtic population just before the Anglo-Saxons began taking over England. Something I have found very interesting is that Celtic culture is largely a maritime culture that probably evolved in the coastal areas of the English Channel and Irish Sea. That is, Celtic genes are found in coastal areas such as Ireland, Whales, Brittany, and near the west coast of France and the Celtic genes go south along the west coast of France nearly to Spain and Portugal. In other words, the Celts were all tied by shipping across the English Channel and across the Irish Sea probably dating back to at least the Bronze Age. They were a maritime culture similar to the Phoenicians in the Mediterranean.

    I would be interested in knowing if the wolves we have in North American came from Eurasia or if they are mixed with the grey wolves that were already hear prior to the formation of Beringia and the McKenzie corridor. I’m guessing they came from Eurasia along with all the other common North American mammals.

    How about Mexican wolves? Did they simply branch off the grey wolf line that migrated from Eurasia or are they the last remnants of the native North American grey wolf?


July 2011


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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