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Extinct Short-faced Bear (Actodus spp.) Fact Sheet, 2007   Tags: bear, extinct, fact sheet, fossil, mammal, san diego zoo, sdzg  

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Extinct Short-faced Bear (Actodus spp.) Fact Sheet, 2007

Short-faced Bear, Actodus

Image Credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Subfamily: Tremarctinae

Genus: Arctodus

Species: Arctodus simus - short-faced bear
Species: Arctodus pristinis - lesser short-faced bear

Body weight for Arctodus simus: Much variation in body mass estimates in literature (due in part to extreme sexual dimorphism in these bears and lack of large numbers of Arctodus to measure); new estimates of 388 kg (855 lb) (female?) to around 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) (male?)

Shoulder height for A. simus: 1.6 m (5.25 ft)

Tail length: vestigial

Pelage: unknown

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

North America—Arctodus simus
Eastern U.S.& Mexico—Arctodus pristinus

Open grasslands for A. simus
Woodlands for A. pristinus

Status: Extinct by 10,000 years ago

Locomotion: Pacing gait with long legs; feet face forwards so doesn't waddle or walk "pigeon-toed" like other bears.

Social Groups: presumed solitary except female with cubs

Diet: As an adaptable omnivore, ate plants, scavenged carcasses and may have killed prey too.

Predators: none known on this giant bear

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Birthing: Females occupied dens

Longevity: Unknown

Feature Facts: Arctodus is variously described as a hyper carnivore, a specialized scavenger, and an omnivore. A new comprehensive, comparative study of 411 individuals of 57 species of living bears, dogs, cats and hyaenas and fossil Arctodus (Figueirido et al 2010) favors an omnivorous lifestyle, similar to that of Alaskan Brown Bears today.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2007 San Diego Zoo Global

How to cite: Extinct Short-faced Bear (Actodus spp.) Fact Sheet, 2007. c2007. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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