Comparing a special kind of genetic material – called mitochondrial DNA – of these bears, the researchers found the modern polar bear’s DNA was very similar to that of the Irish brown bears. The bears seem to have intermixed their DNA in the last few dozen millennia, sometime between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago.
“It’s interesting because polar bears really are marine animals,” Bradley said. “That’s not the case for these brown bears.”
Previous DNA evidence has linked polar bears to Alaskan brown bears originating in the ABC Islands (which consists of Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof) about 14,000 years ago. While both groups are brown bears, Bradley said that the Alaskan bear genetics doesn’t match the polar bear as well as the Irish bears’ does.
Is it just me, or are the Irish out to conquer the world via emigration?