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DNA from Alaska polar bears used in recent study
A recent study analyzed genetic variation in more than 300 polar bears from Alaska and looked at genetic elements not used in earlier studies.
Reports say this week the study was conducted by University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Matthew Cronin. He worked with colleagues at the University of California Davis and Montclair State University in New Jersey.
The study was published online in the Journal of Heredity in January.
It concludes that polar bears diverged as a separate species from brown bears 1.2 million years ago. Other studies have marked the separation at 600,000 to 4.5 million years ago.
The oldest known polar bear fossil dates back only 120,000 years.
Cronin says if the DNA measures are correct, it means bears have survived past warming cycles.