Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Short-Faced Bear

Reconstruction of Arctodus simus
The genus Arctodus is now extinct, but when it was still around it was home to some of the largest predators the world has ever seen. Nicknamed "Short-Faced Bears," these massive creatures could weigh as much as 1,800lbs (800kg)! In comparison, our modern Grizzlies typically top off at around half that.

The largest and most commonly found of the extinct species is Arctodus simus, which lived across mostly western North America in higher ground areas. It is the more recent of the two species, having died out only at the end of the last Ice Age.

The other species, known only from a smattering of fossils, is Arctodus pristinus. These guys were smaller and probably more omnivorous. They lived down the Atlantic coast in lowland areas until about 2 million years ago, and may have died out due to competition from Brown and Black Bears.

Around 30 members of A. simus have been found in the La Brea Tar Pits in California. It is the most common of all the bars found in that specific dig site, and the largest bear to have ever lived in North America. Short-Faced Bears most likely died out due to loss of prey, competition from smaller, more adaptive bears, and from human hunting.

Status : Extinct for 11,000 years, some species longer
Location : North America
Size : Weight up to 1,800lbs (800kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Ursidae -- Genus : †Arctodus

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