Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Extinct Short-faced Bear (Actodus spp.) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

How Do We Know This?

Scientists use knowledge of the earth's rocks, global plate movements, and the chemical process of fossilization to make sense of fossil distribution patterns and ancient habitats.



Prehistoric Distribution

  • The tremarctine lineage of bears became extinct in Europe several million years ago
    • This lineage has one surviving species — the spectacled bear,Tremarctos in South America's Andes mountains.
  • Arctodus found in some 100 localities in North America.
    • Arctodus simus fossils only from North America
    • Arctodus pristinus fossils on the Atlantic coast of North America and in Mexico.
    • Arctodus simus is especially well known from California.
  • Arctodus became extinct in North America around 11,400 years ago near the end of Late Pleistocene time.


Open country, grasslands for A. simus; also, alpine glacier terrain at fairly high elevation. One Arctodus simus site is in the Wasatch Mountains in central Utah at 9000 feet in elevation, and is associated with a Columbian mammoth. (Gillette & Madsen 1992, 1993)

A. pristinus occupied more forested regions of the eastern North America.

Page Citations

Gillette & Madsen (1992, 1993)
Kurtén (1967)
Kurtén & Anderson (1980)
Scott & Cox (1993)

SDZWA Library Links