Why are polar bears white?

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Find it out!

Did you know polar bears fur is not actually white! It gives off the appearance of being white just as snow and ice do. Each hair shaft is pigment free and transparent with a hollow core that scatters and reflects visible light. Polar bears actually have black skin under their hair. Their skin is very thick with fat, that can measure up to 4.5 inches!
Light travels in wavelengths. The human eye can only see certain wavelengths of light. Each color has a different wavelength. The wavelength that helps us understand polar bears is the ultra violet light, or UV light. UV light has a wavelength that is too short for humans to see. UV light is how we get sun burnt. When the sun shines on a polar bear the wavelengths are absorbed by the hollow core of the hair and produces a white/transparent colored bear.

How do you think polar bears walk on all that ice without slipping? Polar bears have small bumps on the pads of their large, wide paws that help them from slipping.

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Try it out!

  • Try watching live polar bears in their habitat at explore.org, This website has live videos of animals in several different parts of the world. You will be able to see animals in their natural habitat.
  • Polar bears cant be the only animals who have to survive in the cold arctic. What other animals can you find that have hollow hair like polar bears?