According to a new study recently published in the journal Environmental Research, pollution is weakening the penises of polar bears. Specifically, levels of the pollutants named polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) could be having an adverse effect on the mineral density of polar bears’ penile bones. This could also mean the species is even more in danger of becoming extinct due to polar bears’ inabilities to mate, fertilize and reproduce.
Study leader Christian Sonne of the Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University in Denmark and a team of other researchers studied the penile bone mineral densities of 279 polar bears born in northeast Greenland and Canada between the years 1990 and 2000. This provided them with the representation of eight different polar bear subpopulations.
They next compared their findings with data on regional pollutants. They discovered that polychlorinated biphenyls were linked to less dense polar bear penile bones. The Arctic, in fact, has a high concentration of PCBs and other pollutants.
Margaret James of the University of Florida who read but did not participate in the study to New Scientist: “These chemicals enter the atmosphere at lower latitudes where they were used, and are then deposited down from the cold polar air, so Arctic animals are more highly exposed than animals in more temperate or equatorial regions.”
The investigative team believes that a weaker even smaller penile bone is at more of a risk of fracturing. Thus this could also cause problems during mating. As Sonne puts it: “If it breaks, you probably won’t have a bear which can copulate.”
Their research also adds to an ever-increasing concern about pollution and climate change. Climate change has already contributed to significant ice break-up which reduces the polar bear’s food supply. Additionally, their previous research revealed that polar bears who take in a large amount of the industrial pollutants organohalogens develop both smaller penile bones and testes. Overall, researchers do not foresee a bright future for polar bears unless something is done about both the issues of climate change and environmental pollutants.
Polar Bear Penises Weakened By Pollution