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Why are polar bears white?

Polar bear fur is actually a transparent, slightly yellow follicle. It acts as a fiber optical medium to direct the sunlight directly to its black skin for absorption. Due to the spacing and arrangement of the follicles, there is some scattering of light, just as in clouds, causing it to look white.

There is a common misconception that it is white for protective coloration. The only predator of polar bears is man, and that is only relatively recent in the history of the planet.

---Nathan A. Unterman

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