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Last Updated: Tuesday December 11 2007 12:48 GMT

Ancient polar bear bone unearthed

Polar bears

Some of the oldest known remains of a polar bear have been uncovered by scientists in the Arctic.

The 23cm-long jawbone is thought to have belonged to a female bear 110,000 or even 130,000 years ago.

Scientists are excited because it was thought polar bears had been around for less than 100,000 years.

Loads of people are worried the beasts could be at risk from climate change, but experts say the bone suggests they can survive warmer environments.

Tests are being carried out on the jawbone, which was pulled from rocks on a narrow strip of land on a group of islands in the Arctic called Svalbard.

A map of where the bone was found
One of the scientists examing the bone, called Professor Ingolfsson, said the bone was very well-preserved which would help them find out how big the jaw and teeth were.

"We've compared all this, both to fossil and recent materials, and there's no question it's a polar bear," he added.



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