Short-faced bear

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Short-faced bears
Temporal range: middle to late Pleistocene
Arctodus simus Sergiodlarosa.jpg
Restoration of Arctodus simus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Subfamily: Ursinae
Genus: Arctodus
Leidy, 1854
Species
  • A. simus Cope, 1897
  • A. pristinus

The short-faced bear or bulldog bear (Arctodus) is an extinct genus of bear endemic to North America during the Pleistocene era about 1.8 million years ago (mya) to 11,000 years ago. At that time, Arctodus simus may have been one of the largest mammals that lived on land and ate meat.[1]

Arctodus simus first appeared during the middle Pleistocene in North America, about 800,000 years ago. It became extinct about 11,600 years ago.

Habitat[change | change source]

The short-faced bear lived in many parts of North America, ranging from Alaska to Mississippi.[2] [3] However, it lived mostly in southern areas, from northern Texas to New Jersey in the east; Aguascalientes, Mexico to the southwest;[4] and with large concentrations in Florida.

The oldest short-faced bear fossils are from the Santa Fe River 1 paleontological sites in Gilchrist County, Florida.

Fossils[change | change source]

Archaeologists first found fossils of the short-faced bear in the Potter Creek Cave in Shasta County, California.[5] This animal might have been the largest carnivorous land mammal that ever lived in North America.

Archaeologists have found only one giant short-faced bear skeleton, in Indiana. It is famous because it was the biggest most-nearly complete skeleton of a giant short-faced bear ever found in America. The original bones are in Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

A recent study estimated the weight of six short-faced bear specimens. The largest was 957 kg (2,110 lb). This suggested that the bear was probably more bigger than scientists had thought.[6] When it was standing on its hind (back) legs, the bear was 8–10 feet (2.4–3.0 m) tall.

Behavior[change | change source]

One theory is that the short-faced bear was an active predator, attacking bison directly. Another theory is that it let faster predators make the kill, then bullied them off the carcass. This would mean it was a scavenger.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. In 1967 Bjorn Kurten of the University of Helsinki wrote a paper, Pleistocene Bears of North America. Kurten said that Arctodus was “…by far the most powerful predator in the Pleistocene fauna of North America”.
  2. C.S. Churcher, A.V. Morgan, and L.D. Carter. 1993. Arctodus simus from the Alaskan Arctic Slope. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30(5):1007-1013, collected by A.V. Morgan
  3. M.L. Cassiliano. 1999. Biostratigraphy of Blancan and Irvingtonian mammals in the Fish Creek-Vallecito Creek section, southern California, and a review of the Blancan-Irvingtonian boundary. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 19(1):169-186
  4. I. Ferrusquia-Villafranca. 1978. Bol Univ Nac Aut Mex Inst Geol 101:193-321
  5. Cope E.D. 1879. The cave bear of California. American Naturalist, 13:791.
  6. Figueirido et al. 2010. Demythologizing Arctodus simus, the ‘short-faced’ long-legged and predaceous bear that never was. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30 (1): 262–275. [1]
  7. "The Biggest Bear ... Ever". Nancy Sisinyak. Alaska Fish and Wildlife News. [2]