Prehistoric Earth Wiki
Short-faced bear
Illustration of Arctodus
Vital statistics
Scientific Name Arctodus
Length 4 metres
Height 2 metres on all fours, 4 metres on two legs
Weight 1 tonne
Diet Carnivorous
Lived 800,000 to 10,000 years ago
Range North America

The short-faced bear, also known by its genus name Arctodus ("bear tooth") was an extinct bear from the Pleistocene of North America. It was one of the largest bears to have ever existed.


The short-faced bear could weigh more than 900 kilograms,[1] which would make it the second-largest known bear after its South American relative Arctotherium.[2] It was similar in shape to modern grizzly bears, although they are not related to the Arctodus genus.


Short-faced bears were part of the bear subfamily Tremarctinae. Their closest living relative is the spectacled bear of the genus Tremarctos. There are two species in the genus: A. simus[3] and A. pristinus.[4]


The genus Arctodus was described by Joseph Leidy in 1854.[5]



The short-faced bear was most probably a carnivore, as analysis of its bones showed high concentrations of nitrogen-15, which is an isotope accumulated by carnivores.[6] Some authors also suggest that the short-faced bear was omnivorous much like many modern bears.[7]


  1. Figueirido et al. (2010). "Demythologizing Arctodus simus, the ‘short-faced’". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30 (1): 262–275. doi:10.1080/02724630903416027.
  2. Soibelzon, L. H.; Schubert, B. W. (January 2011). "The Largest Known Bear, Arctotherium angustidens, from the Early Pleistocene Pampean Region of Argentina: With a Discussion of Size and Diet Trends in Bears". Journal of Paleontology (Paleontological Society) 85 (1): 69–75. doi:10.1666/10-037.1.
  3. Cope, E. D. 1879. The cave bear of California. American Naturalist, 13:791.
  4. S. Legendre and C. Roth. 1988. Correlation of carnassial tooth size and body weight in recent carnivores (Mammalia). Historical Biology 1(1):85-98
  5. J. Alroy. 2002. Synonymies and reidentifications of North American fossil mammals. [J. Alroy/J. Alroy/M. Uhen]
  6. "The Biggest Bear ... Ever". Nancy Sisinyak. Alaska Fish and Wildlife News.
  7. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2009. "Prehistoric Bears Ate Everything And Anything, Just Like Modern Cousins". ScienceDaily.