Monday, November 11, 2013

MacFarlane's Bear

Ursus inopinatus may have just been a hybrid between
a Grizzly Bear (pictured) and a Polar Bear
Today's animal is a confusing creature-- we don't really know if it actually ever existed!

The story goes that back in 1864, Inuit hunters killed a large, blonde bear and gave its skin to naturalist Robert Macfarlane. Macfarlane, not really knowing what the bear was, gave the skin to the Smithsonian Museum, where it sat collecting dust until 1911.

At that point in time, Dr. Clinton Hart Merriam dug the skin out of storage and studied it for the first time. Because the notes said that the bear lived outside of a Brown Bear's range, and because it didn't match up with a Polar Bear skin, Merriam declared the bear to be a new species-- Macfarlane's Bear.

But is it really a new species? If so, is it extinct? Is this bear a holdover from the Pleistocene times? Or is it just a Hybrid? Hybrids between Grizzly bears and Polar bears have been discovered, so perhaps this "new species" is really just a combination of two others. So far there has been no DNA testing done, so the hybrid theory remains just that.

Status : Unknown
Location : North America
Size : Weight around 1,000lbs (453kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Ursidae -- Genus : Ursus -- Species : U. inopinatus
Image :  Grizzle Bear Blog

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