Polar bear penises are being destroyed by toxic chemicals and pollution, leaving them unable to mate, Denmark scientists claim. Researchers at Aarhus University believe that pollutants known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are to blame for polar bears developing a less dense penile bone.
PCBs were used to make rubber goods and paints in the 1930s but have been banned since 2001. The polychlorinated biphenyls were banned from use after scientists discovered the chemical could cause cancer.
Polar bears with high levels of PCBs in their systems reportedly have smaller than normal testes and penis bones. Possessing a weak baculum (penis bone) reportedly puts the bears at risk of actually “breaking” their penis. Since the survival of any species relies upon the ability to reproduce, scientists are extremely concerned about the fate of polar bears.
Because PCBs break down very slowly, they can still be found in the chilly arctic regions, presumably putting all animal inhabitants at risk. Aarhus University researchers, along with a team of peers from Canada, examined baculum specimens from 279 polar bears born in Canada and northeast Greenland from 1990 and 2000. Through the use of X-rays, the scientists were reportedly able to review the calcium density in the penis bones and compare the findings with pollution data from the same regions.
Although the scientists found what they feel is a significant connection between polar bear penis low bone density and PCBs, they also noted that their findings are not “strong enough” to prove that the toxic chemical is the cause of the health issue which could ultimately spell doom for polar bears. The scientists also feel that chemical pollutants have killed a multitude of wild polar bears in recent decades and may have causes changes to the genes of the bears.
In 2013, scientists unearthed a “penis bone shrinking” trend in otters, which may have also been caused by PCBs or other chemicals. Cardiff University and the Chemicals, Health, and Environment Monitoring Trust (CHEM) feels there may be a link between problems with male otter reproductive health and “hormone disrupting chemicals.” Additional male otter health issues, which caused alarm, include cysts on sperm-carrying tubes and undescended testicles.
Some scientists have voiced fears that one quarter of the polar bear population in Canada could die off by the end of the century due to shrinking ice caps.
Do you think that PCBs or other toxic chemicals could be placing the otter and polar bear populations at risk of extinction?
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