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Taxonomic History & Nomenclature
- Taxonomy: see right panel
- 16 subspecies listed for Brown Bears (Ursus arctos)
- Other taxonomists say populations in Eastern Europe, Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and the U.S. are probably not genetically distinct enough to merit separate taxonomic designation. (Leonard et al 2000)
- Brown Bear, Grizzly Bear, Kodiak Bear
- Brown Bears have traditionally been referred to as Grizzly Bears in the non-coastal western U.S.
- Ursus is Latin for "bear"
- arctos comes from Greek arktos, meaning bear
Phylogeny (Krause 2008) (Yu et al 2007)
- Origins of the Ursidae family: 15-20 million years ago (mid-Miocene)
- Brown Bears (includes Grizzly Bears) and Polar Bears diverged from the Black and Sun Bears in the last 6.1 million years ago (Pliocene)
- An ancestor of Brown and Polar Bears diverged from the European Cave Bears (U. spelaeus) around 1.6 million years ago. (Bon et al 2008)
- Cave Bears are sister to a clade of Brown and Polar Bears (Agnarsson et al 2010)
- Estimates vary widely for timing of Brown Bear and Polar Bears divergence (Lindqvist et al 2010)
- 1,320,000 to 200,000 years ago.
- First Brown Bears lived in China, about 500,000 years ago (Pasitschniak-Arts 1993)
- Brown Bears and Cave Bears lived at the same time in Europe beginning about 250,000 years ago (Pasitschniak-Arts 1993)
- Brown Bears replaced Cave Bears in Great Britain about 10,000 years ago
- Brown Bears first appeared 50-70,000 years ago in eastern Beringia (land bridge between Siberia and Alaska during Pleistocene Ice Ages) (Leonard et al 2000)
- By about 36,000 years ago three main clades of brown bears in Beringia.
- From Beringia, Brown Bears spread into Canada, Alaska, and the lower U.S.
- Appeared in lower U.S. 13,000 years ago, at end of last Ice Age when ice-free corridor available.
- Polar Bears are closest relatives of Brown Bears.
- Polar-Bear/Grizzly hybrids are fertile (Davis 1950)
Popular cultural references
- Documentary appearances
- Walking with Giants: The Grizzlies of Siberia - 1999, PBS
- This episode from season 17 of the Nature program takes a look at bears that have never been with people before.
- Showdown at Grizzly River - 2000, PBS
- This episode from season 18 of the Nature program takes viewers to Alaska, where the competition for salmon is fierce.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly - 2004, PBS
- This episode from season 23 of the Nature program allows viewers to witness grizzly bears in Yellowstone.
- Clash: Encounters of Bears and Wolves - 2010, PBS
- This episode from season 28 of the Nature program shows two fierce competitors as they test their strategies for survival in Yellowstone.
- Bears of the Last Frontier - 2011, PBS
- This 3 part episode arc from season 29 of the Nature program displays "City of Bears," "The Road North," and "Arctic Wanderers."
- Fortress of the Bears - 2012, PBS
- In this episode from season 30 of Nature, Yellowstone National Park is once again the backdrop as viewers can observe grizzly bears.
- Bears - 2014, Disneynature
- This film is based on a year in the life of a bear family, a mother and her two cubs, in Alaska.
Family: Ursidae (bears)
Species: Ursus arctos (Brown Bear, Grizzly Bear)
Subspecies: currently debated among taxonomists; see Gippoliti (2016) for discussion
Describer (Date): Linnaeus 1758
Source: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS); downloaded April 2010.
Agnarsson et al (2010)
Bonn et al (2008)
Krause et al (2008)
Leonard et al (2000)
Lindqvist et al (2010)
Yu et al (2007)