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New tests on the only polar bear found in Scotland

March 7, 2008

 Bone Caves

Scientists hope to unlock secrets contained in the DNA of what are believed to be the only polar bear remains to be found in Britain.

The skull, of which only a part survives, was found at Inchnadamph in the Scottish Highlands in 1927.

Genetics experts at Trinity College in Dublin have now approached the National Museum of Scotland about running tests on its DNA.

The results could reveal what the bear ate and how it came to be in the area.

Dr Ceiridwen Edwards, of Trinity’s Smurfit Institute of Genetics, said it may be found that the animal had a terrestrial diet, rather than a marine one, and preyed on reindeer and not seals.

She said the results could also shed light on what it was doing in Assynt 18,000 years ago and reinforce scientists’ understanding that it is Britain’s only confirmed polar bear find.

The research will involve drilling a small hole in the skull then extracting DNA from the powdered residue.

Read more….

Also read a report of the Bone Caves of Inchnadamph by Scottish Natural Heritage:  http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/nnr/large_print/Inchnadamph.pdf

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