Daily Archives: October 25, 2013

Black Bear, Cinnamon Phase

Black bear (Ursus americanus), cinnamon phase

On previous posts, I have shown images of a black bear cub (Ursus americanus) climbing a tree and a Spirit, or Kermode, bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), which is a rare subspecies of black bears who are born white because of a recessive gene present in the blood of both parents, but are not albino because their nose and eyes are black.

The image on this post shows a cinnamon black bear (Ursus americanus cinnamomum): sometimes these black bears are mistaken for brown or grizzly bears because of the color of their coat. Although there is no clarity as to what makes the fur of certain black bears take on this cinnamon brown color, evidence suggests that black bear coat colors vary as a mechanism of camouflage or because of climate and habitat.

So, while in the forested states east of the Great Plains, almost all black bears are black-furred, in western states that have mountain meadows and open forests, more than half of the black bears are brown or cinnamon. This is because lighter colored fur reduces heat stress in open sunlight and also helps bears camouflage from predators in open areas.

Sources: North American Bear Center; The American Bear Association; Ursus International

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