Short-faced Bear



The short-faced bear (Arctodus spp.) is an extinct bear that inhabited North America during the Pleistocene epoch from about 1.8 Mya until 11,000 years ago. It was the most common early North American bear and was most abundant in California. There are two recognized species: Arctodus pristinus andArctodus simus, with the latter considered to be one of the largest known terrestrial mammalian carnivores that has ever existed. It has been hypothesized that their extinction coincides with the Younger Dryas period of global cooling commencing around 10,900 BC.

In a recent study, the mass of six A. simus specimens was estimated, one-third of them weighed about 900 kg (1 short ton), the largest being UVP 015 at 957 kg (2,110 lb), suggesting specimens that big were probably more common than previously thought. It stood 8–10 feet (2.4–3.0 m) tall on hind legs while a large specimen would have been 11–12 feet (3.4–3.7 m) tall with a 14-foot (4.3 m) vertical arm reach, and 5–6 feet (1.5–1.8 m) high at the shoulder when walking on all fours, it was tall enough to look a man in the eye. At Riverbluff Cave, Missouri, a series of claw marks up to 15 feet (4.57 m) high have been found along the cave wall indicating Short-faced bears up to 12 feet (3.66 m) tall.

More Information

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Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Ursidae
  • Subfamily: Tremarctinae
  • Genus: †Arctodus
  • Type species: †Arctodus pristinus


  • †A. simus (Cope, 1879)
  • †A. pristinus (Leidy, 1854)