It is pretty tough to be a polar bear these days. Your turf is rapidly melting into the sea, it’s always cold as hell and seals don’t even taste that good.
All of those problems, however, seem to pale in comparison to the dick-snapping epidemic sweeping the arctic regions.
First climate change, now penile fracture – polar bears have got it pretty rough. Chemical pollutants may be reducing the density of the bears’ penis bones, putting them at risk of breaking this most intimate part of their anatomy.
Various mammals, though not humans, have a penis bone, also known as penile bone or baculum. Its exact function is unclear: it could be just a by-product of evolution, or it may help support the penis or stimulate the female during mating.
Christian Sonne at Aarhus University, Denmark, and colleagues had previously shown that polar bears with high levels of pollutants called organohalogens in their bodies had both smaller testes and a smaller penis bone.
Sonne and his team have now shown that a particular class of organohalogens, the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), is associated with a less dense baculum. This could prevent successful mating, the team suggest.
Jesus. That’s a — excuse the pun here — bad break.
Even though the function of the polar bear’s penile bone is unknown, Sonne believes that a weaker baculum is likely to be problematic during mating. “If it breaks, you probably won’t have a bear which can copulate.”
Like Bill Belichick, I’m not scientist. But I do know the inability to have sex won’t exactly help an endangered species back from the brink.
I’m not telling you that you must care about the environment. But perhaps you’ll do something nice for all the polar bear penises out there and consider it.
[H/T: New Scientist]