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Extinct Short-faced Bear (Actodus spp.) Fact Sheet: Summary

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Disclaimer: Fact sheets on prehistoric (extinct) species contain archived content and are no longer being updated. At the time of publication, these pages summarized the best available science. However, some content may become outdated as scientists report new discoveries.

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

Extinct Short-faced Bear
Short-faced Bear, Actodus

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.
Taxonomy Physical 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 & Status Behavior & 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 & Development Species 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 Wildlife Alliance

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

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance 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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