Polar Bear Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Where Do Polar Bears Live?
  • 0:51 Adaptations: Feet and Nose
  • 1:22 Adaptations: Fat and Fur
  • 2:01 Adaptations: Skin
  • 2:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Polar bears live in a very cold habitat. This lesson teaches you about the different kinds of adaptations polar bears have developed in order to survive in a cold, harsh Arctic environment.

Where Do Polar Bears Live?

Imagine packing for a trip to the Arctic Circle. You would need a heavy jacket, warm socks, boots, a hat, and gloves just to try and stay warm. Your body doesn't have special features to survive in the Arctic without warm clothes.

Polar bears, on the other hand, do, making them right at home in the cold. Polar bears live in the Arctic, which is the area around the North Pole. The average air temperature in the Arctic is 29 degrees below zero in the winter and 32 degrees in the summer.

The average water temperature in the Arctic Ocean during the summer is 29 degrees. In the winter, it drops to 28 degrees, the temperature where ocean water starts to freeze over.

Polar bears have special adaptations, or features that have evolved, letting them live in this bitterly cold Arctic climate. And they don't even need a jacket!

Adaptations: Feet and Nose

If your dinner is swimming around, you'd better be a good swimmer, too! Polar bears are excellent swimmers, in part because they have big feet that are partially webbed. They use those feet to push themselves through the Arctic water, like you use webbed swim fins to swim faster in the pool. Their feet are also covered in fur, like snowshoes, so they stay warm and don't slip on the ice.

When a tasty meal, like a seal, swims by, polar bears might have to dive down to catch it. But they don't get icy water up their nose when they dive because their nose holes close when they're underwater.

Adaptations: Fat and Fur

Polar bears don't need jackets like you do because they have a built in layer of fat underneath their skin. That fat can be over four inches thick and it keeps their bodies warm, even when the air and water are very cold.

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