American black bears are evolving to have cinnamon-colored coats, study finds

An American black bear stands on a rock.

Some American black bears in the western United States have evolved to have cinnamon-colored fur. The new hue is likely due to a genetic variant similar to one that causes albinism in humans, a new study finds.

Researchers from the United States and Japan analyzed DNA samples from 151 American black bears (Ursus americanus) across the United States and Canada and found that those residing in western states such as Nevada, Arizona and Idaho were more likely to exhibit reddish-colored coats than the black fur for which the medium-size bears are named.