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The Great White Black Bear
Just when you think you've seen everything, here comes the spirit bear (conveniently enough, in gorgeous and mind-bendingly close-up photographs). No, this white bear is not a Polar Bear, but rather a denizen of Canada's Great Bear Rainforest, and get this -- she's actually a black bear. Born of a recessive gene similar to the human genes for pale skin and red hair, Kermodism, as it's called, is quite rare in the larger black bear population. But on Gribbell Island, nearly one in three black bears is white. (Read the entire article for theories as to why this is.) The native people of the area, the Gitga'at First Nation, call these creatures spirit bears, and according to Bruce Barcott's fascinating National Geographic article, they have never hunted them.
There is something really special about these Kermode bears, something beautiful and rare. And like with so many creatures, their uniqueness seems to lend them a secret advantage in life: apparently the white bears are more successful at catching salmon than their darker counterparts. Oh, and they are scientifically proven to be more likely to make your heart flutter in your chest. Okay, maybe not that last one. You must check out the full National Geographic story, complete with a stunning slide show of Paul Nicklen's miraculous photos. (via My Modern Met.)
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