The scientific classification of the polar bear is in the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Ursidae, genus Ursus and species maritimus. The polar bear's binomial name is Ursus maritimus, determined by the English explorer Constantine Phipps in 1774.
"Ursus maritimus" is Latin for "sea bear." Though the mammal appears similar to other bear species, the polar bear is considered a marine mammal because of how long it spends swimming between ice floes. In terms of genetics, the polar bear and the brown bear are closely related, possibly because they are both descendants of the same ancestral brown bear.