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Otters Oddities

Look at me. Aren't I adorable? Don;t you just want to pet me? Go ahead....stick out your hand....that's it....

You read what that polar bear is saying? Don't listen to it. That bear will eat your hand right the hell off! In one single chomp! And then eat the rest of you!


Polar bears are mean. In fact, more people die from polar bear attacks every year then die from rectal-myopathic-entopicpolopsy. (yeah, I made that up. Sue me)

But seriously, polar bears are incredibly bad tempered when it comes to humans. They will mess you up big time. They will do to you what the Wampa was going to do to Luke Skywalker on Hoth. Only without the whole freezing him to the roof first.

But they are sort of cute. Especially when they're young. But then, most beasties are cute when they're young.

Did you know that a polar bear isn't white? It only appears white. That's because it's fur is actually clear. The way it works is, light contains every color. When it hit's something, the object it hits absorbs some of the wavelengths of light, but reflects others. What we see as color is just fragmented light reflected off a surface.


Since the fur is clear, it doesn't reflect any light. Since all the light is reflected back, it appears to be white. It's simple physics.

But, that's not the thing I want to talk about today. Consider that to be a bonus fact. The actual oddity has to do with food.


Specifically, food made from polar bears. People actually do hunt and eat them. Mostly native Inuits. They will kill a polar bear and have plenty of meat for a while. They can't live on whale blubber and seal meat.

And, since polar bears are hard to hunt, they utilize almost the entire corpse.

You'll notice I said 'almost'.

One of the things people do when they kill animals is to eat them. When early humans killed something, they ate all of it. From it's internal organs right down to the marrow from the bones. In fact, the organ meats were some of the prized delicacies from the slain critter.


Even today organ meat is considered an indulgent delicacy. Look at foie gras. It's the fatty liver of a goose. Livers and hearts are traditionally the organs most people will fight over.

Except when it comes to the polar bear.

The native people who have polar bears as part of their diet don't eat the liver.


They discovered many centuries ago that people who ate a polar bears liver ended up dead. They didn't know why, but they died. So, they don't eat the liver.

When Europeans came exploring, the natives neglected to tell the new people. And a lot of men got sick and died.


Not everyone died, though. Only the lucky ones did.

The problem is, livers are where they stored large amounts of retinol. Retinol is the form of vitamin A found in arctic animals. And if you eat the liver, you ingest extremely high levels of vitamin A in a very short period of time.


This leads to a condition known as Acute Hypervitaminosis A. Eating an entire liver is enough to cause coma and death in a human. If you eat less than a whole one, then you just wish for death.

The problem lies in the main symptom of acute hypervitaminosis A. It involves the peeling of the skin. What happens is, you skin peels off. All the way. Leaving the raw flesh underneath exposed. Areas of thick skin, such as the palms of the hands and sloes of the feet aren't immune. The flesh will just peel away.


So, if someone offers an arctic liver, especially polar bear, don't eat it. Unless, of course, you're sick of your own skin and want to get rid of it.

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