Bristly, 1000-pound brutes willing to claw it out for females and whisk them off for a week of spirited shagging, male polar bears might hook up with several mates in a season. They are not the stripe of male to suffer from any image problems when it comes to, well, having the right equipment—not, at least, until today, when the Nunatsiaq News of the Nunavik region of Arctic Quebec—surely an authority on polar bears–reported that their penises are shrinking.
A photograph accompanying the article shows a woman holding 20-odd polar bear penis bones, which were found by a recent study to be significantly shorter in bears exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals. The findings, published last month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, adds fuel to concerns that a massive buildup of pesticides in the bodies of Arctic animals and hunters is causing environmental and health problems (see the story in Mother Jones). The issue may compound troubles caused by the bears’ loss of Arctic habitat. “Added to the stress of climate change,” the Nunatsiaq News points out, “this could be bad news for their survival.”
The same toxic buildup taking place in polar bears is happening to a lesser but increasing degree in the fatty tissues of humans–even in some places outside the Arctic. For the sake of our own mating rituals, let’s hope the global masculinity index isn’t going bearish.