Arctodus—Short-faced Bears // Tremarctos—Spectacled Bears // Ursus—Black and Brown Bears
Two extant and three extinct species of bear occur in the Pleistocene of our region. Historically, Ursus arctos (Brown Bear, better known to most North Americans as the Grizzly Bear) was widespread in our region, but has been eradicated from the Southwest by humans. Ursus americanus (American Black Bear) was widespread historically and still inhabits much of our area. Arctodus simus, the extinct Giant Short-faced Bear, was widespread in the North American West, but became extinct near the end of the Wisconsin. A Blancan form of Tremarctos also is recorded
Bears are omnivores, and this shows in their teeth that are more like those of pigs or humans than cats or mustelids. Nonetheless, all are capable of taking large prey.
The Animal Diversity Web gives an excellent account of the Ursidae, including pictures of some of the characteristics.
Fig. 1. Ursus arctos . Museum display, Centennial Museum.
Last Update: 11 Mar 2013