Bears are carnivoran mammals of the family Ursidae. They are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans. Although only eight species of bears are extant, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere. Bears are found on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Common characteristics of modern bears include large bodies with stocky legs, long snouts, small rounded ears, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and short tails.

While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous, and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous with varied diets. With the exception of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals. They may be diurnal or nocturnal and have an excellent sense of smell. Despite their heavy build and awkward gait, they are adept runners, climbers, and swimmers. Bears use shelters, such as caves and logs, as their dens; most species occupy their dens during the winter for a long period of hibernation, up to 100 days.

Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur; they have been used for bear-baiting and other forms of entertainment, such as being made to dance. With their powerful physical presence, they play a prominent role in the arts, mythology, and other cultural aspects of various human societies. In modern times, bears have come under pressure through encroachment on their habitats and illegal trade in bear parts, including the Asian bile bear market. The IUCN lists six bear species as vulnerable or endangered, and even least concern species, such as the brown bear, are at risk of extirpation in certain countries. The poaching and international trade of these most threatened populations are prohibited, but still ongoing.

Temporal range: 38–0 Ma
Late Eocene – Recent
Brown bear in Alaska
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Infraorder: Arctoidea
Family: Ursidae
G. Fischer de Waldheim, 1817



The English word "bear" comes from Old English bera and belongs to a family of names for the bear in Germanic languages, such as Swedish björn, also used as a first name, that originate from an adjective meaning "brown". "Bear" therefore originally meant "the brown one." This terminology for the animal originated as a taboo avoidance term: proto-Germanic tribes replaced their original word for bear – arkto – with this euphemistic expression out of fear that speaking the animal's true name might cause it to appear.[1][2]

Bear taxon names such as Arctoidea and Helarctos come from the ancient Greek word ἄρκτος (arktos), meaning bear,[3] as do the names "arctic" and "antarctic", from the constellation Ursa Major, the "Great Bear", prominent in the northern sky.[4]

Bear taxon names such as Ursidae and Ursus come from Latin Ursus/Ursa, he-bear/she-bear.[4] The female first name "Ursula", originally derived from a Christian saint's name, means "little she-bear" (diminutive of Latin ursa). In Switzerland, the male first name "Urs" is especially popular, while the name of the canton and city of Bern is derived from Bär, German for bear. The Germanic name Bernard (including Bernhardt and similar forms) means "bear-brave", "bear-hardy", or "bold bear".[5][6] The Old English name Beowulf is a kenning, "bee-wolf", for bear, in turn meaning a brave warrior.[7]

Taxonomy and phylogeny

The family Ursidae is one of nine families in the suborder Caniformia, or "doglike" carnivorans, within the order Carnivora. Bears' closest living relatives are the pinnipeds, canids, and musteloids.[8] Modern bears comprise eight species in three subfamilies: Ailuropodinae (monotypic with the giant panda), Tremarctinae (monotypic with the spectacled bear), and Ursinae (containing six species divided into one to three genera, depending on the authority). Nuclear chromosome analysis show that the karyotype of the six ursine bears is nearly identical, with each having 74 chromosomes, whereas the giant panda has 42 chromosomes and the spectacled bear 52. These smaller numbers can be explained by the fusing of some chromosomes, and the banding patterns on these match those of the ursine species, but differ from those of procyonids, which supports the inclusion of these two species in Ursidae rather than in Procyonidae, where they had been placed by some earlier authorities.[9]


Plithocyon armagnacensis
Plithocyon armagnacensis skull, a member of the extinct subfamily Hemicyoninae from the Miocene

The earliest members of Ursidae belong to the extinct subfamily Amphicynodontinae, including Parictis (late Eocene to early middle Miocene, 38–18 Mya) and the slightly younger Allocyon (early Oligocene, 34–30 Mya), both from North America. These animals looked very different from today's bears, being small and raccoon-like in overall appearance, with diets perhaps more similar to that of a badger. Parictis does not appear in Eurasia and Africa until the Miocene.[10] It is unclear whether late-Eocene ursids were also present in Eurasia, although faunal exchange across the Bering land bridge may have been possible during a major sea level low stand as early as the late Eocene (about 37 Mya) and continuing into the early Oligocene.[11] European genera morphologically very similar to Allocyon, and to the much younger American Kolponomos (about 18 Mya),[12] are known from the Oligocene, including Amphicticeps and Amphicynodon.[11] There has been various morphological evidence linking amphicynodontines with pinnipeds, as both groups were semi-aquatic, otter-like mammals.[13][14][15] In addition to the support of the pinniped–amphicynodontine clade, other morphological and some molecular evidence supports bears being the closet living relatives to pinnipeds.[16][17][18][14][19][14][15]

The raccoon-sized, dog-like Cephalogale is the oldest-known member of the subfamily Hemicyoninae, which first appeared during the middle Oligocene in Eurasia about 30 Mya.[11] The subfamily includes the younger genera Phoberocyon (20–15 Mya), and Plithocyon (15–7 Mya). A Cephalogale-like species gave rise to the genus Ursavus during the early Oligocene (30–28 Mya); this genus proliferated into many species in Asia and is ancestral to all living bears. Species of Ursavus subsequently entered North America, together with Amphicynodon and Cephalogale, during the early Miocene (21–18 Mya). Members of the living lineages of bears diverged from Ursavus between 15 and 20 Mya,[20][21] likely via the species Ursavus elmensis. Based on genetic and morphological data, the Ailuropodinae (pandas) were the first to diverge from other living bears about 19 Mya, although no fossils of this group have been found before about 5 Mya.[22]

The New World short-faced bears (Tremarctinae) differentiated from Ursinae following a dispersal event into North America during the mid-Miocene (about 13 Mya).[22] They invaded South America (≈2.5 or 1.2 Ma) following formation of the Isthmus of Panama.[23] Their earliest fossil representative is Plionarctos in North America (~ 10–2 Ma). This genus is probably the direct ancestor to the North American short-faced bears (genus Arctodus), the South American short-faced bears (Arctotherium), and the spectacled bears, Tremarctos, represented by both an extinct North American species (T. floridanus), and the lone surviving representative of the Tremarctinae, the South American spectacled bear (T. ornatus).[11]

Fossil of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus), a relative of the brown bear and polar bear from the Pleistocene epoch in Europe

The subfamily Ursinae experienced a dramatic proliferation of taxa about 5.3–4.5 Mya, coincident with major environmental changes; the first members of the genus Ursus appeared around this time.[22] The sloth bear is a modern survivor of one of the earliest lineages to diverge during this radiation event (5.3 Mya); it took on its peculiar morphology, related to its diet of termites and ants, no later than by the early Pleistocene. By 3–4 Mya, the species Ursus minimus appears in the fossil record of Europe; apart from its size, it was nearly identical to today's Asian black bear. It is likely ancestral to all bears within Ursinae, perhaps aside from the sloth bear. Two lineages evolved from U. minimus: the black bears (including the sun bear, the Asian black bear, and the American black bear); and the brown bears (which includes the polar bear). Modern brown bears evolved from U. minimus via Ursus etruscus, which itself is ancestral to the extinct Pleistocene cave bear. Species of Ursinae have migrated repeatedly into North America from Eurasia as early as 4 Mya during the early Pliocene.[24][25] The polar bear is the most recently evolved species and descended from the brown bear around 400,000 years ago.[26]


The bears form a clade within the Carnivora. The red panda is not a bear but a musteloid. The cladogram is based on molecular phylogeny of six genes in Flynn, 2005.[27]


Feliformia Ocelot


Canidae African golden wolf


daggerHemicyonidae Hemicyon sansaniensis

Ursidae Brown bear

Pinnipedia Common seal


Ailuridae, inc. red panda Ailurus fulgens - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam -(white background).jpg

Other musteloids Steppe polecat

There are two phylogenetic hypotheses on the relationships among extant and fossil bear spcies. One is all species of bears are classified in seven subfamilies as adopted here and related articles: Amphicynodontinae, Hemicyoninae, Ursavinae, Agriotheriinae, Ailuropodinae, Tremarctinae, and Ursinae.[28][29][30][31] Below is a cladogram of the subfamilies of bears after McLellan and Reiner (1992)[28] and Qiu et a. (2014):[31]


daggerAmphicynodontinae Kolponomos newportensis

daggerHemicyoninae Hemicyon sansaniensis



Ailuropodinae Recherches pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des mammifères (Pl. 50) (white background)

Tremarctinae Spectacled bear (1829)

Ursinae Ursus arctos - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background)

The second alternative phylogenetic hypothesis was implemented by McKenna et al. (1997) is to classify all the bear species into the superfamily Ursoidea, with Hemicyoninae and Agriotheriinae being classified in the family "Hemicyonidae".[32] Amphicynodontinae under this classification were classified as stem-pinnipeds in the superfamily Phocoidea.[32] In the McKenna and Bell classification both bears and pinnipeds in a parvorder of carnivoran mammals known as Ursida, along with the extinct bear dogs of the family Amphicyonidae.[32] Below is the cladogram based on McKenna and Bell (1997) classification:[32]


daggerAmphicyonidae Daphoenodon superbus by R. B. Horsfall (coloured)


daggerAmphicynodontidae Kolponomos newportensis

Pinnipedia Common seal


daggerHemicyoninae Hemicyon sansaniensis




Ailuropodinae Recherches pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des mammifères (Pl. 50) (white background)

Tremarctinae Spectacled bear (1829)

Ursinae Ursus arctos - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background)

The phylogeny of extant bear species is shown in a cladogram based on complete mitochondrial DNA sequences from Yu et al., 2007.[33] The giant panda, followed by the spectacled bear are clearly the oldest species. The relationships of the other species are not very well resolved, though the polar bear and the brown bear form a close grouping.[9]


Brown bear Ursus arctos - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background)

Polar bear Lossy-page1-2518px-Ursus maritimus - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background)

Asian black bear Ursus thibetanus - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam -(white background)

American black bear Ursus americanus - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background)

Sun bear Ursus malayanus - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background)

Sloth bear Tremarctos ornatus 1824 (flipped)

Spectacled bear Spectacled bear (1829)

Giant panda Recherches pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des mammifères (Pl. 50) (white background)


Kolponomos newportensis
Restoration of Kolponomos a large marine bear
Restoration of Hemicyon by Jay Matternes
Agriotherium maraghanus mandible
Mandible of Agriotherium. This genus that existed from the Miocene to the Pleistocene is the only known ursid to have lived in sub-Saharan Africa.[34]
Indarctos atticus
Skull of Indarctos atticus. Indarctos was a Miocene genus found across the northern hemisphere.[35]
Bai yun giant panda
Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) eating bamboo leaves
Restoration of Arctotherium, a South American Pleistocene genus from a lineage whose only survivor is the spectacled bear. It is the largest bear ever found and contender for the largest carnivorous land mammal known.[36][37]
Bear sitting
A sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) sitting upright
Ice Age Cave Bear Skeleton
Ice age cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) from 150,000 BCE
AlaskanBear closeup
A brown bear (Ursus arctos) surveying the landscape
Bear Scat Okanagan Black Bear
Some evidence of a bear found along a popular hiking trail in British Columbia, Canada
  • Family Ursidae (G. Fischer de Waldheim, 1817)
    • Subfamily daggerAmphicynodontinae (Simpson, 1945)
      • daggerAmphicticeps (Matthew and Granger, 1924)
        • daggerAmphicticeps makhchinus (Wang et al., 2005)
        • daggerAmphicticeps dorog (Wang et al., 2005)
        • daggerAmphicticeps shackelfordi (Matthew and Granger, 1924)
      • daggerParictis (Scott, 1893)
        • daggerParictis primaevus (Scott, 1893)
        • daggerParictis personi (Chaffee, 1954)
        • daggerParictis montanus (Clark & Guensburg, 1972)
        • daggerParictis parvus (Clark & Beerbower, 1967)
        • daggerParictis gilpini (Clark & Guensburg, 1972)
        • daggerParictis dakotensis (Clark, 1936)
      • daggerKolponomos (Stirton, 1960)
        • daggerKolponomos newportensis (Tedford et al., 1994)
        • daggerKolponomos clallamensis (Stirton, 1960)
      • daggerAllocyon (Merriam, 1930)
        • daggerAllocyon loganensis (Merriam, 1930)
      • daggerPachycynodon (Schlosser, 1888)
        • daggerPachycynodon tedfordi (Wang & Qiu, 2003)
        • daggerPachycynodon tenuis (Teilhard de Chardin, 1915)
        • daggerPachycynodon filholi (Schlosser, 1888)
        • daggerPachycynodon boriei (Filhol, 1876)
        • daggerPachycynodon crassirostris (Schlosser, 1888)
      • daggerAmphicynodon (Filhol, 1881)
        • daggerAmphicynodon mongoliensis (Janovskaja, 1970)
        • daggerAmphicynodon teilhardi (Matthew and Granger, 1924)
        • daggerAmphicynodon typicus (Schlosser, 1888)
        • daggerAmphicynodon chardini (Cirot and De Bonis, 1992)
        • daggerAmphicynodon cephalogalinus (Teilhard, 1915)
        • daggerAmphicynodon gracilis (Filhol, 1874)
        • daggerAmphicynodon crassirostris (Filhol, 1876)
        • daggerAmphicynodon brachyrostris (Filhol, 1876)
        • daggerAmphicynodon leptorhynchus (Filhol, 1874)
        • daggerAmphicynodon velaunus (Aymard, 1846)
    • Subfamily daggerHemicyoninae (Frick, 1926)
      • Tribe daggerCephalogalini (de Bonis, 2013)
        • daggerAdelpharctos (de Bonis, 1971)
          • daggerAdelpharctos ginsburgi (de Bonis, 2011)
          • daggerAdelpharctos mirus (de Bonis, 1971)
        • daggerCyonarctos (de Bonis, 2013)
          • daggerCyonarctos dessei (de Bonis, 2013)
        • daggerPhoberogale (Ginsburg & Morales, 1995)
          • daggerPhoberogale minor (Filhol, 1877)
          • daggerPhoberogale bonali (Helbing, 1928)
          • daggerPhoberogale depereti (Viret, 1929)
          • daggerPhoberogale gracile (Pomel, 1847)
        • daggerFilholictis (de Bonis, 2013)
          • daggerFilholictis filholi (Munier-Chalmas, 1877)
        • daggerCephalogale (Jourdan, 1862)
          • daggerCephalogale shareri (Wang, et al., 2009)
          • daggerCephalogale gergoviensis (Viret, 1929)
          • daggerCephalogale ginesticus (Kuss, 1962)
          • daggerCephalogale geoffroyi (Jourdan, 1862)
      • Tribe daggerPhoberocyonini (Ginsburg & Morales, 1995)
        • daggerPlithocyon (Ginsburg, 1955)
          • daggerPlithocyon armagnacensis (Ginsburg, 1955)
          • daggerPlithocyon statzlingii (Frick, 1926)
          • daggerPlithocyon bruneti (Ginsburg, 1980)
          • daggerPlithocyon barstowensis (Frick, 1926)
          • daggerPlithocyon ursinus (Cope, 1875)
        • daggerPhoberocyon (Ginsburg, 1955)
          • daggerPhoberocyon hispanicus (Ginsburg & Morales, 1998)
          • daggerPhoberocyon dehmi (Ginsburg, 1955)
          • daggerPhoberocyon huerzeleri (Ginsburg, 1955)
          • daggerPhoberocyon aurelianensis (Mayet, 1908)
          • daggerPhoberocyon youngi (Xiang et al., 1986)
          • daggerPhoberocyon johnhenryi (White, 1947)
      • Tribe daggerHemicyonini (Frick, 1926)
        • daggerZaragocyon (Ginsburg & Morales, 1995)
          • daggerZaragocyon daamsi (Ginsburg & Morales, 1995)
        • daggerDinocyon (Jourdan, 1861)
          • daggerDinocyon aurelianensis (Frick, 1926)
          • daggerDinocyon sansaniensis (Frick, 1926)
          • daggerDinocyon thenardi (Jourdan, 1861)
        • daggerHemicyon (Lartet, 1851)
          • daggerHemicyon barbouri (Colbert, 1941)
          • daggerHemicyon teilhardi (Colbert, 1939)
          • daggerHemicyon grivensis (Frick, 1926)
          • daggerHemicyon minor (Dépéret, 1887)
          • daggerHemicyon sansaniensis (Lartet, 1851)
    • Subfamily daggerUrsavinae (Hendey, 1980)
      • daggerBallusia (Ginsburg & Morales, 1998)
        • daggerBallusia elmensis (Stehlin, 1917)
        • daggerBallusia hareni (Ginsburg, 1989)
        • daggerBallusia orientalis (Qiu et al., 1985)
      • daggerUrsavus (Schlosser, 1899)
        • daggerUrsavus brevirhinus (Hofmann, 1887)
        • daggerUrsavus primaevus (Gaillard, 1899)
        • daggerUrsavus intermedius (Koenigswald, 1925)
        • daggerUrsavus pawniensis (Frick, 1926)
        • daggerUrsavus ehrenbergi (Brunner, 1942)
        • daggerUrsavus sylvestris (Qiu & Qi, 1990)
        • daggerUrsavus isorei (Ginsburg & Morales, 1998)
        • daggerUrsavus tedfordi (Zhanxiang et al., 2014)
    • Subfamily daggerAgriotheriinae (Kretzoi, 1929)
      • daggerAgriotherium (Wagner, 1837)
        • daggerAgriotherium myanmarensis (Ogino et al., 2011)
        • daggerAgriotherium insigne (Gervais, 1859)
        • daggerAgriotherium inexpetans (Qiu et al., 1991)
        • daggerAgriotherium palaeindicus (Lydekker, 1878)
        • daggerAgriotherium sivalensis (Falconer & Cautley, 1836)
        • daggerAgriotherium africanum (Hendey, 1972)
        • daggerAgriotherium coffeyi (Dalquest, 1986)
        • daggerAgriotherium gregoryi (Frick, 1926)
        • daggerAgriotherium schneideri (Sellards, 1916)
    • Subfamily Ailuropodinae (Grevé, 1894)[38]
      • Tribe daggerIndarctini (Abella et al., 2012)
        • daggerMiomaci (de Bonis et al., 2017)
          • daggerMiomaci pannonicum (de Bonis et al., 2017)
        • daggerIndarctos (Pilgrim, 1913)
          • daggerIndarctos punjabensis (Lydekker, 1884)
          • daggerIndarctos zdanskyi (Qiu & Tedford, 2003)[39]
          • daggerIndarctos sinensis (Zdansky, 1924)
          • daggerIndarctos vireti (Villalta & Crusafont, 1943)
          • daggerIndarctos arctoides (Deperet, 1895)
          • daggerIndarctos anthracitis (Weithofer, 1888)
          • daggerIndarctos salmontanus (Pilgrim, 1913)
          • daggerIndarctos atticus (Weithofer, 1888)
          • daggerIndarctos bakalovi (Kovachev, 1988)
          • daggerIndarctos lagrelli (Zdansky, 1924)
          • daggerIndarctos oregonensis (Merriam et al., 1916)
          • daggerIndarctos nevadensis (Macdonald, 1959)[40]
      • Tribe Ailuropodini (Grevé, 1894)
        • daggerKretzoiarctos (Abella et al., 2012)
          • daggerKretzoiarctos beatrix (Abella et al., 2011)
        • daggerAgriarctos (Kretzoi, 1942)
          • daggerAgriarctos depereti (Schlosser, 1902)
          • daggerAgriarctos vighi (Kretzoi, 1942)
          • daggerAgriarctos gaali (Kretzoi, 1942)
        • daggerAilurarctos (Qi et al., 1989)
          • daggerAilurarctos yuanmouensis (Zong, 1997)
          • daggerAilurarctos lufengensis (Qi et al., 1989)
        • Ailuropoda (Milne-Edwards, 1870)
    • Subfamily Tremarctinae (Merriam & Stock, 1925)[41]
      • daggerPlionarctos (Frick, 1926)
        • daggerPlionarctos harroldorum (Tedfored & Martin, 2001)
        • daggerPlionarctos edensis (Frick, 1926)
      • daggerArctodus (Leidy, 1854)
        • daggerArctodus simus (Cope, 1879)
        • daggerArctodus pristinus (Leidy, 1854)
      • daggerArctotherium (Burmeister, 1879)
        • daggerArctotherium angustidens (Gervais & Ameghino, 1880)
        • daggerArctotherium vetustum (Ameghino, 1885)
        • daggerArctotherium wingei (Ameghino, 1902)
        • daggerArctotherium bonariense (Gervais, 1852)
        • daggerArctotherium tarijense (Ameghino, 1902)
      • Tremarctos (Gervais, 1855)
    • Subfamily Ursinae (G. Fischer de Waldheim, 1817)

Physical characteristics


Polar bear (left) and sun bear, the largest and smallest species respectively, on average

Polar Bear AdF
Sepilok Sabah BSBCC-photos-by-Wong-Siew-Te-06

The bear family includes the most massive extant terrestrial members of the order Carnivora.[a] The polar bear is considered to be the largest extant species,[43] with adult males weighing 350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb) and measuring 2.4–3 metres (7 ft 10 in–9 ft 10 in) in total length.[44] The smallest species is the sun bear, which ranges 25–65 kg (55–143 lb) in weight and 100–140 cm (39–55 in) in length.[45] Prehistoric North and South American short-faced bears were the largest species known to have lived. The latter estimated to have weighed 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) and stood 3.4 m (11 ft) tall.[37][36] Body weight varies throughout the year in bears of temperate and arctic climates, as they build up fat reserves in the summer and autumn and lose weight during the winter.[46]


Bear foot
Unlike most other Carnivora, bears have plantigrade feet. Drawing by Richard Owen, 1866.

Bears are generally bulky and robust animals with short tails. They are sexually dimorphic with regard to size, with males typically being larger.[47][48] Larger species tend to show increased levels of sexual dimorphism in comparison to smaller species.[48] Relying as they do on strength rather than speed, bears have relatively short limbs with thick bones to support their bulk. The shoulder blades and the pelvis are correspondingly massive. The limbs are much straighter than those of the big cats as there is no need for them to flex in the same way due to the differences in their gait. The strong forelimbs are used to catch prey, to excavate dens, to dig out burrowing animals, to turn over rocks and logs to locate prey, and to club large creatures.[46]

Black bear large
Despite being quadrupeds, bears can stand and sit as humans do.

Unlike most other land carnivorans, bears are plantigrade. They distribute their weight toward the hind feet, which makes them look lumbering when they walk. They are capable of bursts of speed but soon tire, and as a result mostly rely on ambush rather than the chase. Bears can stand on their hind feet and sit up straight with remarkable balance. Their front paws are flexible enough to grasp fruit and leaves. Bears' non-retractable claws are used for digging, climbing, tearing, and catching prey. The claws on the front feet are larger than those on the back and may be a hindrance when climbing trees; black bears are the most arboreal of the bears, and have the shortest claws. Pandas are unique in having a bony extension on the wrist of the front feet which acts as a thumb, and is used for gripping bamboo shoots as the animals feed.[46]

Most mammals have agouti hair, with each individual hair shaft having bands of colour corresponding to two different types of melanin pigment. Bears however have a single type of melanin and the hairs have a single colour throughout their length, apart from the tip which is sometimes a different shade. The coat consists of long guard hairs, which form a protective shaggy covering, and short dense hairs which form an insulating layer trapping air close to the skin. The shaggy coat helps maintain body heat during winter hibernation and is shed in the spring leaving a shorter summer coat. Polar bears have hollow, translucent guard hairs which gain heat from the sun and conduct it to the dark-coloured skin below. They have a thick layer of blubber for extra insulation, and the soles of their feet have a dense pad of fur.[46] Other than the bold black-and-white pelage of the panda, bears tend to be uniform in colour, although some species may have markings on the chest or face.[49]

Bears have small rounded ears so as to minimise heat loss, but neither their hearing or sight are particularly acute. Unlike many other carnivorans they have colour vision, perhaps to help them distinguish ripe nuts and fruits. They are unique among carnivorans in not having touch-sensitive whiskers on the muzzle; however, they have an excellent sense of smell, better than that of the dog, or possibly any other mammal. They use smell for signalling to each other (either to warn off rivals or detect mates) and for finding food. Smell is the principal sense used by bears to locate most of their food, and they have excellent memories which helps them to relocate places where they have found food before.[46]

Ursus arctos 01 MWNH 145 (cropped)
Brown bear skull

The skulls of bears are massive, providing anchorage for the powerful masseter and temporal jaw muscles. The canine teeth are large but mostly used for display, and the molar teeth flat and crushing. Unlike most other members of the Carnivora, bears have relatively undeveloped carnassial teeth, and their teeth are adapted for a diet that includes a significant amount of vegetable matter.[46] Considerable variation occurs in dental formula even within a given species. This may indicate bears are still in the process of evolving from a mainly meat-eating diet to a predominantly herbivorous one. Polar bears appear to have secondarily re-evolved carnassial-like cheek teeth, as their diets have switched back towards carnivory.[50] Sloth bears lack lower central incisors and use their protusible lips for sucking up the termites on which they feed.[46] The general dental formula for living bears is: 3.1.2––4.3.[46] The structure of the larynx of bears appears to be the most basal of the caniforms.[51] They possess air pouches connected to the pharynx which may amplify their vocalisations.[52]

Bears have a fairly simple digestive system typical for carnivorans, with a single stomach, short undifferentiated intestines and no cecum.[53][54] Even the herbivorous giant panda still has the digestive system of a carnivore, as well as carnivore-specific genes. Its ability to digest cellulose is ascribed to the microbes in its gut.[55] Bears must spend much of their time feeding in order to gain enough nutrition from foliage. The panda, in particular, spends 12–15 hours a day feeding.[56]

Distribution and habitat

Spectacled Bear 161 (2)
The spectacled bear is the only species found in South America.[57]

Extant bears are found in sixty countries primarily in the Northern Hemisphere and are concentrated in Asia, North America, and Europe. An exception is the spectacled bear; native to South America, it inhabits the Andean region.[57] The sun bear's range extends below the equator in Southeast Asia.[58] The Atlas bear, a subspecies of the brown bear was distributed in North Africa from Morocco to Libya, but it became extinct around the 1870s.[59]

The most widespread species is the brown bear, which occurs from Western Europe eastwards through Asia to the western areas of North America. The American black bear is restricted to North America, and the polar bear is restricted to the Arctic Sea. All the remaining species of bear are Asian.[57] They occur in a range of habitats which include tropical lowland rainforest, both coniferous and broadleaf forests, prairies, steppes, montane grassland, alpine scree slopes, Arctic tundra and in the case of the polar bear, ice floes.[57][60] Bears may dig their dens in hillsides or use caves, hollow logs and dense vegetation for shelter.[60]

Behaviour and life history

Bear tracks (5062843250)
American black bear tracks at Superior National Forest, Minnesota, the United States of America

Brown and American black bears are generally diurnal, meaning that they are active for the most part during the day, though they may forage substantially by night.[61] Other species may be nocturnal, active at night, though female sloth bears with cubs may feed more at daytime to avoid competition from conspecifics and nocturnal predators.[62] Bears are overwhelmingly solitary and are considered to be the most asocial of all the Carnivora. The only times bears are encountered in small groups are mothers with young or occasional seasonal bounties of rich food (such as salmon runs).[63][64] Fights between males can occur and older individuals may have extensive scarring, which suggests that maintaining dominance can be intense.[65] With their acute sense of smell, bears can locate carcasses from several kilometres away. They use olfaction to locate other foods, encounter mates, avoid rivals and recognise their cubs.[46]


Most bears are opportunistic omnivores and consume more plant than animal matter. They eat anything from leaves, roots, and berries to insects, carrion, fresh meat, and fish, and have digestive systems and teeth adapted to such a diet.[57] At the extremes are the almost entirely herbivorous giant panda and the mostly carnivorous polar bear. However, all bears feed on any food source that becomes seasonally available.[56] For example, Asiatic black bears in Taiwan consume large numbers of acorns when these are most common, and switch to ungulates at other times of the year.[66]

When foraging for plants, bears choose to eat them at the stage when they are at their most nutritious and digestible, typically avoiding older grasses, sedges and leaves.[54][56] Hence, in more northern temperate areas, browsing and grazing is more common early in spring and later becomes more restricted.[67] Knowing when plants are ripe for eating is a learned behaviour.[56] Berries may be foraged in bushes or at the tops of trees, and bears try to maximize the number of berries consumed versus foliage.[67] In autumn, some bear species forage large amounts of naturally fermented fruits, which affects their behaviour.[68] Smaller bears climb trees to obtain mast (edible reproductive parts, such as acorns).[69] Such masts can be very important to the diets of these species, and mast failures may result in long-range movements by bears looking for alternative food sources.[70] Brown bears, with their powerful digging abilities, commonly eat roots.[67] The panda's diet is over 99% bamboo,[71] of 30 different species. Its strong jaws are adapted for crushing the tough stems of these plants, though they prefer to eat the more nutritious leaves.[72][73] Bromeliads can make up to 50% of the diet of the spectacled bear, which also has strong jaws to bite them open.[74]

Bear Alaska (3)
Brown bear feeding on infrequent, but predictable, salmon migrations in Alaska

The sloth bear, though not as specialised as polar bears and the panda, has lost several front teeth usually seen in bears, and developed a long, suctioning tongue to feed on the ants, termites, and other burrowing insects they favour. At certain times of the year, these insects can make up 90% of their diets.[75] Some species may raid the nests of wasps and bees for the honey and immature insects, in spite of stinging from the adults.[76] Sun bears use their long tongues to lick up both insects and honey.[77] Fish are an important source of food for some species, and brown bears in particular gather in large numbers at salmon runs. Typically, a bear plunges into the water and seizes a fish with its jaws or front paws. The preferred parts to eat are the brain and eggs. Small burrowing mammals like rodents may be dug out and eaten.[78][67]

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) with its prey
Polar bear feeding on a seal on an ice floe north of Svalbard, Norway. It is the most carnivorous species.

The brown bear and both species of black bears sometimes take large ungulates, such as deer and bovids, mostly the young and weak.[66][79][78] These animals may be taken by a short rush and ambush, though hiding young may be stiffed out and pounced on.[67][80] The polar bear mainly preys on seals, stalking them from the ice or breaking into their dens. They primarily eat the highly digestible blubber.[81][78] Large mammalian prey is typically killed by a bite to the head or neck, or (in the case of young) simply pinned down and mauled.[67][82] Predatory behaviour in bears is typically taught to the young by the mother.[78]

Bears are prolific scavengers and kleptoparasites, stealing food caches from rodents, and carcasses from other predators.[54][83] For hibernating species, weight gain is important as it provides nourishment during winter dormancy. A brown bear can eat 41 kg (90 lb) of food and gain 2–3 kg (4.4–6.6 lb) of fat a day prior to entering its den.[84]


Ursus thibetanus 01
Captive Asian black bears during an aggressive encounter

Bears produce a number of vocal and non-vocal sounds. Tongue-clicking, grunting or chuffing many be made in cordial situations, such as between mothers and cubs or courting couples, while moaning, huffing, sorting or blowing air is made when an individual is stressed. Barking is produced during times of alarm, excitement or to give away the animal's position. Warning sounds include jaw-clicking and lip-popping, while teeth-chatters, bellows, growls, roars and pulsing sounds are made in aggressive encounters. Cubs may squeal, bawl, bleat or scream when in distress and make motor-like humming when comfortable or nursing.[51][85][86][87][88][89]

Standing Sloth Bear
Sloth bear rubbing against tree at Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, India

Bears sometimes communicate with visual displays such as standing upright, which exaggerates the individual's size. The chest markings of some species may add to this intimidating display. Staring is an aggressive act and the facial markings of spectacled bears and giant pandas may help draw attention to the eyes during agonistic encounters.[49] Individuals may approach each other by stiff-legged walking with the head lowered. Dominance between bears is asserted by making a frontal orientation, showing the canine teeth, muzzle twisting and neck stretching. A subordinate may respond with a lateral orientation, by turning away and dropping the head and by sitting or lying down.[64][90]

Bears may mark territory by rubbing against trees and other objects which may serve to spread their scent. This is usually accompanied by clawing and biting the object. Bark may be spread around to draw attention to the marking post.[91] Pandas are known to mark objects with urine and a waxy substance from their anal glands.[92] Polar bears leave behind their scent in their tracks which allow individuals to keep track of one another in the vast Arctic wilderness.[93]

Reproduction and development

Black Bears mating
American black bears mating at the North American Bear Center

The mating system of bears has variously been described as a form of polygyny, promiscuity and serial monogamy.[94][95][96] During the breeding season, males take notice of females in their vicinity and females become more tolerant of males. A male bear may visit a female continuously over a period of several days or weeks, depending on the species, to test her reproductive state. During this time period, males try to prevent rivals from interacting with their mate. Courtship may be brief, although in some Asian species, courting pairs may engage in wrestling, hugging, mock fighting and vocalising. Ovulation is induced by mating, which can last up to 30 minutes depending on the species.[95]

Polar bear mother nursing her cub

Gestation typically lasts 6–9 months, including delayed implantation, and litter size numbers up to four cubs.[97] Giant pandas may give birth to twins but they can only suckle one young and the other is left to die.[98] In northern living species, birth takes place during winter dormancy. Cubs are born blind and helpless with at most a thin layer of hair, relying on their mother for warmth. The milk of the female bear is rich in fat and antibodies and cubs may suckle for up to a year after they are born. By 2–3 months, cubs can follow their mother outside the den. They usually follow her on foot, but sloth bear cubs may ride on their mother's back.[97][60] Male bears play no role in raising young. Infanticide, where an adult male kills the cubs of another, has been recorded in polar bears, brown bears and American black bears but not in other species.[99] Males kill young to bring the female into oestrus.[100] Cubs may flee and the mother defends them even at the cost of her life.[101][102][103]

In some species, offspring may become independent around the next spring, through some may stay until the female successfully mates again. Bears reach sexual maturity shortly after they disperse; at around 3–6 years depending on the species. Male Alaskan brown bears and polar bears may continue to grow until they are 11 years old.[97] Lifespan may also vary between species. The brown bear can live an average of 25 years.[104]


Bears of northern regions, including the American black bear and the grizzly bear, hibernate in the winter.[105][106] During hibernation, the bear's metabolism slows down, its body temperature decreases slightly, and its heart rate slows from a normal value of 55 to just 9 beats per minute.[107] Bears normally do not wake during their hibernation, and can go the entire period without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating.[46] A fecal plug is formed in the colon, and is expelled when the bear wakes in the spring.[108] If they have stored enough body fat, their muscles remain in good condition, and their protein maintenance requirements are met from recycling waste urea.[46] Female bears give birth during the hibernation period, and are roused when doing so.[106]

Predators, parasites and pathogens

Björnjakt i Dalarna - Nordiska Museet - NMA.0052736
Hunters with shot bear, Sweden, early 20th century. This photograph is in the Nordic Museum.

Bears do not have many predators. The most important are humans, and as they started cultivating crops, they increasingly came in conflict with the bears that raided them. Since the invention of firearms, people have been able to kill bears with greater ease.[109] Felids like the tiger may also prey on bears,[110][111] particularly cubs, which may be also be threatened by canids.[9][96]

Bears are parasitized by eighty species of parasites, including single-celled protozoans and gastro-intestinal worms, and nematodes and flukes in their heart, liver, lungs and bloodstream. Externally they have ticks, fleas and lice. A study of American black bears found seventeen species of endoparasite including the protozoan Sarcocystis, the parasitic worm Diphyllobothrium mansonoides, and the nematodes Dirofilaria immitis, Capillaria aerophila, Physaloptera sp., Strongyloides sp. and others. Of these, D. mansonoides and adult C. aerophila were causing pathological symptoms.[112] By contrast, polar bears have few parasites; many parasitic species need a secondary, usually terrestrial, host, and the polar bear's life style is such that few alternative hosts exist in their environment. The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii has been found in polar bears, and the nematode Trichinella nativa can cause a serious infection and decline in older polar bears.[113] Bears in North America are sometimes infected by a Morbillivirus similar to the canine distemper virus.[114] They are susceptible to infectious canine hepatitis (CAV-1), with free-living black bears dying rapidly of encephalitis and hepatitis.[115]

Relationship with humans

Bear trap GTNP1
A barrel trap in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming used to relocate bears away from where they might attack humans


In modern times, bears have come under pressure through encroachment on their habitats[116] and illegal trade in bear parts, including the Asian bile bear market, though hunting is now banned, largely replaced by farming.[117] The IUCN lists six bear species as vulnerable;[118] even the two least concern species, the brown bear and the American black bear,[118] are at risk of extirpation in certain areas. In general these two species inhabit remote areas with little interaction with humans, and the main non-natural causes of mortality are hunting, trapping, road-kill and depredation.[119]

Laws have been passed in many areas of the world to protect bears from habitat destruction. Public perception of bears is often positive, as people identify with bears due to their omnivorous diets, their ability to stand on two legs, and their symbolic importance.[120] Support for bear protection is widespread, at least in more affluent societies.[121] Where bears raid crops or attack livestock, they may come into conflict with humans.[122][123] In poorer rural regions, attitudes may be more shaped by the dangers posed by bears, and the economic costs they cause to farmers and ranchers.[122]


Several bear species are dangerous to humans, especially in areas where they have become used to people; elsewhere, they generally avoid humans. Injuries caused by bears are rare, but are widely reported.[124] Bears may attack humans in response to being startled, in defense of young or food, or even for predatory reasons.[125]

Entertainment, hunting, food and folk medicine

The dancing bear by William Frederick Witherington
The dancing bear by William Frederick Witherington, 1822

Bears in captivity have for centuries been used for entertainment. They have been trained to dance,[126] and were kept for baiting in Europe at least since the 16th century. There were five bear-baiting gardens in Southwark, London at that time; archaeological remains of three of these have survived.[127] Across Europe, nomadic Romani bear handlers called Ursari lived by busking with their bears from the 12th century.[128]

Theodor Aman - Ursarul
A nomadic ursar, a Romani bear-busker. Drawing by Theodor Aman, 1888

Bears have been hunted for sport, food, and folk medicine. Their meat is dark and stringy, like a tough cut of beef. In Cantonese cuisine, bear paws are considered a delicacy. Bear meat should be cooked thoroughly, as it can be infected with the parasite Trichinella spiralis.[129][130]

The peoples of eastern Asia use bears' body parts and secretions (notably their gallbladders and bile) as part of traditional Chinese medicine. More than 12,000 bears are thought to be kept on farms in China, Vietnam, and South Korea for the production of bile. Trade in bear products is prohibited under CITES, but bear bile has been detected in shampoos, wine and herbal medicines sold in Canada, the United States and Australia.[131]

Literature, art and symbolism

Onikuma, a Japanese demon bear from Ehon Hyaku Monogatari, c. 1841
Brīvības piemineklis-Lāčplēsis
The Latvian legendary hero Lāčplēsis kills a bear with his bare hands.

There is evidence of prehistoric bear worship, though this is disputed by archaeologists.[132] The prehistoric Finns,[133] Siberian peoples[134] and more recently Koreans considered the bear as the spirit of their forefathers.[135] There is evidence of bear worship in early Chinese and Ainu cultures.[136] In many Native American cultures, the bear is a symbol of rebirth because of its hibernation and re-emergence.[137] The image of the mother bear was prevalent throughout societies in North America and Eurasia, based on the female's devotion and protection of her cubs.[138] Japanese folklore features the Onikuma, a "demon bear" that walks upright.[139] The Ainu of northern Japan, a different people from the Japanese, saw the bear instead as sacred; Hirasawa Byozan painted a scene in documentary style of a bear sacrifice in an Ainu temple, complete with offerings to the dead animal's spirit.[140]

In Korean mythology, a tiger and a bear prayed to Hwanung, the son of the Lord of Heaven, that they might become human. Upon hearing their prayers, Hwanung gave them 20 cloves of garlic and a bundle of mugwort, ordering them to eat only this sacred food and remain out of the sunlight for 100 days. The tiger gave up after about twenty days and left the cave. However, the bear persevered and was transformed into a woman. The bear and the tiger are said to represent two tribes that sought the favor of the heavenly prince.[141] The bear-woman (Ungnyeo; 웅녀/熊女) was grateful and made offerings to Hwanung. However, she lacked a husband, and soon became sad and prayed beneath a "divine birch" tree (Hangul신단수; Hanja神檀樹; RRshindansu) to be blessed with a child. Hwanung, moved by her prayers, took her for his wife and soon she gave birth to a son named Dangun Wanggeom – who was the legendary founder of Gojoseon, the first ever Korean kingdom.[142]

Sidney Hall - Urania's Mirror - Ursa Major
The constellation of Ursa Major as depicted in Urania's Mirror, c. 1825

Artio (Dea Artio in the Gallo-Roman religion) was a Celtic bear goddess. Evidence of her worship has notably been found at Bern, itself named for the bear. Her name is derived from the Celtic word for "bear", artos.[143] In ancient Greece, archaic cult of Artemis in bear form survived into Classical times at Brauron, where young Athenian girls passed an initiation right as arktai "she bears".[144] For Artemis and one of her nymphs as a she-bear, see the myth of Callisto.

The constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the great and little bears, are named for their supposed resemblance to bears, from the time of Ptolemy.[b][4] The nearby star Arcturus means "guardian of the bear", as if it were watching the two constellations.[146] Ursa Major has been associated with a bear for as much as 13,000 years since Paleolithic times, in the widespread Cosmic Hunt myths. These are found on both sides of the Bering land bridge, which was lost to the sea some 11,000 years ago.[147]

Pliny the Elder's Natural History (1st century AD) claims that "when first born, [bears] are shapeless masses of white flesh, a little larger than mice; their claws alone being prominent. The mother then licks them gradually into proper shape."[148] This belief was echoed by authors of bestiaries throughout the medieval period.[149]

The Three Bears - Project Gutenberg eText 17034
"The Three Bears", Arthur Rackham's illustration to English Fairy Tales, by Flora Annie Steel, 1918

Bears are mentioned in the Bible; the Second Book of Kings relates the story of the prophet Elisha calling on them to eat the youths who taunted him.[150] Legends of saints taming bears are common in the Alpine zone. In the arms of the bishopric of Freising, the bear is the dangerous totem animal tamed by St. Corbinian and made to carry his civilised baggage over the mountains. Bears similarly feature in the legends of St. Romedius, Saint Gall and Saint Columbanus. This recurrent motif was used by the Church as a symbol of the victory of Christianity over paganism.[151] In the Norse settlements of northern England during the 10th century, a type of "hogback" grave cover of a long narrow block of stone, with a shaped apex like the roof beam of a long house, is carved with a muzzled, thus Christianised, bear clasping each gable end, as in the church at Brompton, North Yorkshire and across the British Isles.[152]

Lāčplēsis, meaning "Bear-slayer", is a Latvian legendary hero who is said to have killed a bear by ripping its jaws apart with his bare hands. However, as revealed in the end of the long epic describing his life, Lāčplēsis' own mother had been a she-bear, and his superhuman strength resided in his bear ears. The modern Latvian military award Order of Lāčplēsis, called for the hero, is also known as The Order of the Bear-Slayer.

Bears are popular in children's stories, including Winnie the Pooh,[153] Paddington Bear,[154] Gentle Ben[155] and "The Brown Bear of Norway".[156] An early version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears",[157] was published as "The Three Bears" in 1837 by Robert Southey, many times retold, and illustrated in 1918 by Arthur Rackham.[158] The cartoon character Yogi Bear has appeared in numerous comic books, animated television shows and films.[159][160] The Care Bears began as greeting cards in 1982, and were featured as toys, on clothing and in film.[161] Around the world, many children—and some adults—have teddy bears, stuffed toys in the form of bears, named after the American statesman Theodore Roosevelt when in 1902 he had refused to shoot an American black bear tied to a tree.[162]

Bears, like other animals, may symbolize nations. In 1911, the British satirical magazine Punch published a cartoon about the Anglo-Russian Entente by Leonard Raven-Hill in which the British lion watches as the Russian bear sits on the tail of the Persian cat.[163] The Russian Bear has been a common national personification for Russia from the 16th century onwards.[164] Smokey Bear has become a part of American culture since his introduction in 1944, with his message "Only you can prevent forest fires".[165] In the United Kingdom, the bear and staff feature on the heraldic arms of the county of Warwickshire.[166] Bears appear in the canting arms of two cities, Bern and Berlin.[167]


Baby Pandas
Juvenile pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

The International Association for Bear Research & Management, also known as the International Bear Association, and the Bear Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission, a part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature focus on the natural history, management, and conservation of bears. Bear Trust International works for wild bears and other wildlife through four core program initiatives, namely Conservation Education, Wild Bear Research, Wild Bear Management, and Habitat Conservation.[168]

Specialty organizations for each of the eight species of bears worldwide include:

  • Vital Ground, for the brown bear[169]
  • Moon Bears, for the Asiatic black bear[170]
  • Black Bear Conservation Coalition, for the North American black bear[171]
  • Polar Bears International, for the polar bear[172]
  • Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, for the sun bear[173]
  • Wildlife SOS, for the sloth bear[174]
  • Andean Bear Conservation Project, for the Andean bear[175]
  • Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, for the giant panda[176]

See also


  1. ^ Treating pinnipeds[42] as marine mammals
  2. ^ Ptolemy named the constellations in Greek, Ἄρκτος μεγάλη (Arktos Megale) and Ἄρκτος μικρά (Arktos Mikra), the great and little bears.[145]


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  • Ward, P.; Kynaston, S. (1995). Wild Bears of the World. Facts on File, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8160-3245-7.

Further reading

  • Domico, Terry; Newman, Mark (1988). Bears of the World. Facts on File, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8160-1536-8.
  • Faulkner, William (1942). The Bear. Curley Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7927-0537-6.
  • Brunner, Bernd (2007). Bears: A Brief History. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12299-2.

External links

American black bear

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most widely distributed bear species. American black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The American black bear is the world's most common bear species.

It is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a least-concern species, due to its widespread distribution and a large population estimated to be twice that of all other bear species combined. Along with the brown bear, it is one of only two of the eight modern bear species not considered by the IUCN to be globally threatened with extinction. American black bears often mark trees using their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears, a behavior common to many species of bears.

Bear (gay culture)

In male gay culture, a bear is often a larger or obese hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. Bears are one of many LGBT communities with events, codes, and a culture-specific identity. However, in San Francisco in the 1970s any hairy man of whatever shape was referred to as a 'bear' until the term was appropriated by larger men and other words had to be used to describe hairy other-shaped men such as otter (slim), cub (young bear on the way), or wolf (hairy, medium build). The word manatee describes a big, hairless man, i.e. a bear without hair.

The term bear was popularized by Richard Bulger, who, along with his then partner Chris Nelson (1960–2006) founded Bear Magazine in 1987. There is some contention surrounding whether Bulger originated the term and the subculture's conventions. George Mazzei wrote an article for The Advocate in 1979 called "Who's Who in the Zoo?", that characterized gay men as seven types of animals, including bears.

The bear concept can function as an identity or an affiliation, and there is ongoing debate in bear communities about what constitutes a bear. Some bears place importance on presenting a clear masculine image and may disdain or shun men who exhibit effeminacy, while others consider acceptance and inclusiveness of all behavioural types to be an important value of the community.The bear community consists primarily of gay or bisexual men. However, as LGBT culture and modern slang has taken on a wider appeal in modern society, it is possible to call a hairy and burly straight man a bear, although they would not be strictly part of the gay bear community. Increasingly, transgender men (trans men) and those who shun labels for gender and sexuality are also included within bear communities. However, heterosexual men who have bearish physical traits and are affirming of their gay friends and family (or their gay fans, in the case of a celebrity) may also be informally accorded "honorary" bear status. A smaller number of lesbians, particularly those portrayed as butch, also participate in bear culture, referring to themselves with the distinct label of ursula.

Bear Bryant

Paul William "Bear" Bryant (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983) was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama's head coach, he amassed six national championships (tied for the most in modern college football history) and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for most wins as head coach in collegiate football history with 323 wins. The Paul W. Bryant Museum, Paul W. Bryant Hall, Paul W. Bryant Drive, and Bryant–Denny Stadium are all named in his honor at the University of Alabama. He was also known for his trademark black and white houndstooth fedora, deep voice, casually leaning up against the goal post during pre-game warmups, and holding his rolled-up game plan while on the sidelines. Before arriving at Alabama, Bryant was head football coach at the University of Maryland, the University of Kentucky, and Texas A&M University.

Bear Grylls

Edward Michael Grylls (born 7 June 1974), better known as Bear Grylls, is a British former SAS serviceman, survival instructor, and honorary lieutenant-colonel, and, outside his military career, an adventurer, writer, television presenter and businessman. He is widely known for his television series Man vs. Wild (2006–2011), originally titled Born Survivor: Bear Grylls for the United Kingdom release. Grylls is also involved in a number of wilderness survival television series in the UK and US. In July 2009, Grylls was appointed the youngest-ever Chief Scout of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories at age 35, a post he has held for a second term since 2015.

Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlin International Film Festival (German: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), usually called the Berlinale, is a film festival held annually in Berlin, Germany. Founded in West Berlin in 1951, the festival has been held every February since 1978 and is one of the "Big Three" alongside the Venice Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival.

With around 300,000 tickets sold and 500,000 admissions each year, it has the largest public attendance of any annual film festival. Up to 400 films are shown in several sections across cinematic genres. Around twenty films compete for the festival's top awards, called the Golden Bear and several Silver Bears. Since 2001 the director of the festival has been Dieter Kosslick.The European Film Market (EFM), a film trade fair held simultaneously to the Berlinale, is a major industry meeting for the international film circuit. The trade fair serves distributors, film buyers, producers, financiers and co-production agents. The Berlinale Talents, a week-long series of lectures and workshops, is a gathering of young filmmakers held in partnership with the festival.The film festival, EFM, and other satellite events are attended by around 20,000 professionals from over 130 countries. More than 4200 journalists produce media coverage in over 110 countries. At some high-profile feature film premieres held during the festival, movie stars and celebrities are present on the red carpet.

Brown bear

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is a bear that is found across much of northern Eurasia and North America. In North America the population of brown bears are often called grizzly bears. It is one of the largest living terrestrial members of the order Carnivora, rivaled in size only by its closest relative, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), which is much less variable in size and slightly larger on average.The brown bear's principal range includes parts of Russia, Central Asia, China, Canada, the United States, Scandinavia and the Carpathian region, especially Romania, Anatolia and the Caucasus. The brown bear is recognized as a national and state animal in several European countries.While the brown bear's range has shrunk and it has faced local extinctions, it remains listed as a least concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with a total population of approximately 200,000. As of 2012, this and the American black bear are the only bear species not classified as threatened by the IUCN. However, the California, North African and Mexican subspecies were hunted to extinction in the 19th and early 20th centuries and many of the southern Asian subspecies are highly endangered. One of the smaller-bodied subspecies, the Himalayan brown bear, is critically endangered, occupying only 2% of its former range and threatened by uncontrolled poaching for its body parts. The Marsican brown bear of central Italy is one of several currently isolated populations of the Eurasian brown bear, and believed to have a population of just 40 to 50 bears.

Giant panda

The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally "black and white cat-foot"; Chinese: 大熊猫; pinyin: dà xióng māo, literally "big bear cat"), also known as panda bear or simply panda, is a bear native to south central China. It is easily recognized by the large, distinctive black patches around its eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. The name "giant panda" is sometimes used to distinguish it from the unrelated red panda. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the giant panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents, or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan, but also in neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu. As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the giant panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.

The giant panda is a conservation-reliant vulnerable species. A 2007 report showed 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. As of December 2014, 49 giant pandas lived in captivity outside China, living in 18 zoos in 13 different countries. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild, while a 2006 study via DNA analysis estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of giant pandas in the wild is on the rise. In March 2015, Mongabay stated that the wild giant panda population had increased by 268, or 16.8%, to 1,864. In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from "endangered" to "vulnerable".While the dragon has often served as China's national symbol, internationally the giant panda appears at least as commonly. As such, it is becoming widely used within China in international contexts, for example since 1982 issuing gold panda bullion coins or as one of the five Fuwa mascots of the Beijing Olympics.

Grizzly bear

The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.) is a large population of the brown bear inhabiting North America. Scientists generally do not use the name grizzly bear but call it the North American brown bear.

Multiple morphological forms sometimes recognized as subspecies exist, including the mainland grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis), Kodiak bear (U. a. middendorffi), peninsular grizzly (U. a. gyas), and the recently extinct California grizzly (U. a. californicus†) and Mexican grizzly bear (U. a. nelsoni†). On average bears near the coast tend to be larger while inland grizzlies tend to be smaller.

The Ussuri brown bear (U. a. lasiotus) inhabiting Russia, Northern China, Japan and Korea is sometimes referred to as the black grizzly, although it is a different subspecies from the bears in America.


The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus, or, inaccurately, koala bear) is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. It is the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae and its closest living relatives are the wombats, which comprise the family Vombatidae.. The koala is found in coastal areas of the mainland's eastern and southern regions, inhabiting Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. It is easily recognisable by its stout, tailless body and large head with round, fluffy ears and large, spoon-shaped nose. The koala has a body length of 60–85 cm (24–33 in) and weighs 4–15 kg (9–33 lb). Pelage colour ranges from silver grey to chocolate brown. Koalas from the northern populations are typically smaller and lighter in colour than their counterparts further south. These populations possibly are separate subspecies, but this is disputed.

Koalas typically inhabit open eucalypt woodlands, and the leaves of these trees make up most of their diet. Because this eucalypt diet has limited nutritional and caloric content, koalas are largely sedentary and sleep up to 20 hours a day. They are asocial animals, and bonding exists only between mothers and dependent offspring. Adult males communicate with loud bellows that intimidate rivals and attract mates. Males mark their presence with secretions from scent glands located on their chests. Being marsupials, koalas give birth to underdeveloped young that crawl into their mothers' pouches, where they stay for the first six to seven months of their lives. These young koalas, known as joeys, are fully weaned around a year old. Koalas have few natural predators and parasites, but are threatened by various pathogens, such as Chlamydiaceae bacteria and the koala retrovirus, as well as by bushfires and droughts.

Koalas were hunted by Indigenous Australians and depicted in myths and cave art for millennia. The first recorded encounter between a European and a koala was in 1798, and an image of the animal was published in 1810 by naturalist George Perry. Botanist Robert Brown wrote the first detailed scientific description of the koala in 1814, although his work remained unpublished for 180 years. Popular artist John Gould illustrated and described the koala, introducing the species to the general British public. Further details about the animal's biology were revealed in the 19th century by several English scientists. Because of its distinctive appearance, the koala is recognised worldwide as a symbol of Australia. Koalas are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Australian government similarly lists specific populations in Queensland and New South Wales as Vulnerable. The animal was hunted heavily in the early 20th century for its fur, and large-scale cullings in Queensland resulted in a public outcry that initiated a movement to protect the species. Sanctuaries were established, and translocation efforts moved to new regions koalas whose habitat had become fragmented or reduced. The biggest threat to their existence is habitat destruction caused by agriculture and urbanisation.

List of Toy Story characters

This is a list of characters from Disney/Pixar's Toy Story franchise which consists of the animated films Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010) and the upcoming Toy Story 4 (2019). The list also includes characters from the Toy Story Toons series (2011–12) and the television specials Toy Story of Terror! (2013) and Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014).

Market trend

A market trend is a perceived tendency of financial markets to move in a particular direction over time. These trends are classified as secular for long time frames, primary for medium time frames, and secondary for short time frames. Traders attempt to identify market trends using technical analysis, a framework which characterizes market trends as predictable price tendencies within the market when price reaches support and resistance levels, varying over time.

A trend can only be determined in hindsight, since at any time prices in the future are not known.

Polar bear

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a hypercarnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi). A boar (adult male) weighs around 350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice and open water, and for hunting seals, which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time on the sea ice. Their scientific name means "maritime bear" and derives from this fact. Polar bears hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present. Because of their dependence on the sea ice, polar bears are classified as marine mammals.Because of expected habitat loss caused by climate change, the polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species. For decades, large-scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species, but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of circumpolar peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures. Historically, the polar bear has also been known as the white bear.

Red panda

The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because the wild population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.The red panda has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs; it is roughly the size of a domestic cat, though with a longer body and somewhat heavier. It is arboreal, feeds mainly on bamboo, but also eats eggs, birds, and insects. It is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentary during the day. It is also called the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, and the red cat-bear.The red panda is the only living species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. It has been previously placed in the raccoon and bear families, but the results of phylogenetic analysis provide strong support for its taxonomic classification in its own family, Ailuridae, which is part of the superfamily Musteloidea, along with the weasel, raccoon and skunk families. Two subspecies are recognized. It is not closely related to the giant panda, which is a basal ursid.

Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights.The Supreme Court ruled in the 2008 Heller decision that the right belongs to individuals for self-defense while also including, as dicta, that the right is not unlimited and does not preclude the existence of certain long-standing prohibitions such as those forbidding "the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill" or restrictions on "the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons." State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right.The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense and resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.While both James Monroe and John Adams supported the Constitution being ratified, its most influential framer was James Madison. In Federalist No. 46, Madison wrote how a federal army could be kept in check by state militias, "a standing army ... would be opposed [by] a militia." He argued that state militias "would be able to repel the danger" of a federal army, "It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops." He contrasted the federal government of the United States to the European kingdoms, which he described as "afraid to trust the people with arms," and assured that "the existence of subordinate governments ... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition".By January 1788, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut ratified the Constitution without insisting upon amendments. Several amendments were proposed, but were not adopted at the time the Constitution was ratified. For example, the Pennsylvania convention debated fifteen amendments, one of which concerned the right of the people to be armed, another with the militia. The Massachusetts convention also ratified the Constitution with an attached list of proposed amendments. In the end, the ratification convention was so evenly divided between those for and against the Constitution that the federalists agreed to the Bill of Rights to assure ratification.

In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court ruled that, "The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendments [sic] means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government." In United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment did not protect weapon types not having a "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia."In the twenty-first century, the amendment has been subjected to renewed academic inquiry and judicial interest. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that held the amendment protects an individual's right to keep a gun for self-defense. This was the first time the Court had ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own a gun. In McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Court clarified that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Second Amendment against state and local governments. In Caetano v. Massachusetts (2016), the Supreme Court reiterated its earlier rulings that "the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding" and that its protection is not limited to "only those weapons useful in warfare."

The debate between various organizations regarding gun control and gun rights continues.


Tardigrades (; also known colloquially as water bears, or moss piglets) are a phylum of water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented micro-animals. They were first described by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773, who gave them the name of "little water bears". The name Tardigrada (meaning "slow steppers") was given three years later by the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani. They have been found everywhere: from mountaintops to the deep sea and mud volcanoes; from tropical rain forests to the Antarctic. Tardigrades are among the most resilient known animals, with individual species able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, extreme pressures (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, and starvation. Tardigrades have even survived exposure to outer space. About 1,150 known species form the phylum Tardigrada, a part of the superphylum Ecdysozoa. The group includes fossils dating from 530 million years ago, in the Cambrian period.Usually, tardigrades are about 0.5 mm (0.02 in) long when they are fully grown. They are short and plump, with four pairs of legs, each ending in claws (usually four to eight) or sucking disks. Tardigrades are prevalent in mosses and lichens and feed on plant cells, algae, and small invertebrates. When collected, they may be viewed under a very low-power microscope, making them accessible to students and amateur scientists.

Teddy bear

A teddy bear is a soft toy in the form of a bear. Developed apparently simultaneously by toymakers Morris Michtom in the U.S. and Richard Steiff in Germany in the early years of the 20th century, and named after President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, the teddy bear became an iconic children's toy, celebrated in story, song, and film. Since the creation of the first teddy bears which sought to imitate the form of real bear cubs, "teddies" have greatly varied in form, style, color, and material. They have become collector's items, with older and rarer "teddies" appearing at public auctions. Teddy bears are among the most popular gifts for children and are often given to adults to signify love, congratulations, or sympathy.


Winnie-the-Pooh, also called Pooh Bear, is a fictional anthropomorphic teddy bear created by English author A. A. Milne.

The first collection of stories about the character was the book Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and this was followed by The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne also included a poem about the bear in the children's verse book When We Were Very Young (1924) and many more in Now We Are Six (1927). All four volumes were illustrated by E. H. Shepard.

The Pooh stories have been translated into many languages, including Alexander Lenard's Latin translation, Winnie ille Pu, which was first published in 1958, and, in 1960, became the only Latin book ever to have been featured on The New York Times Best Seller list.Hyphens in the character's name were omitted by Disney when the company adapted the Pooh stories into a series of features that would eventually become one of its most successful franchises.

In popular film adaptations, Pooh has been voiced by actors Sterling Holloway, Hal Smith, and Jim Cummings in English, and Yevgeny Leonov in Russian.


The wolverine () (also spelled wolverene), Gulo gulo (Gulo is Latin for "glutton"), also referred to as the glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch, is the largest land-dwelling species of the family Mustelidae. It is a stocky and muscular carnivore, more closely resembling a small bear than other mustelids. A solitary animal, it has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times larger than itself.

The wolverine is found primarily in remote reaches of the Northern boreal forests and subarctic and alpine tundra of the Northern Hemisphere, with the greatest numbers in Northern Canada, the American state of Alaska, the mainland Nordic countries of Europe, and throughout western Russia and Siberia. Its population has steadily declined since the 19th century owing to trapping, range reduction and habitat fragmentation. The wolverine is now essentially absent from the southern end of its European range.

Yogi Bear

Yogi Bear is a cartoon character who has appeared in numerous comic books, animated television shows and films. He made his debut in 1958 as a supporting character in The Huckleberry Hound Show.

Yogi Bear was the first breakout character created by Hanna-Barbera and was eventually more popular than Huckleberry Hound. In January 1961, he was given his own show, The Yogi Bear Show, sponsored by Kellogg's, which included the segments Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle. Hokey Wolf replaced his segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show. A musical animated feature film, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!, was produced in 1964.

Yogi was one of several Hanna-Barbera characters to have a collar. This allowed animators to keep his body static, redrawing only his head in each frame when he spoke—a method that reduced the number of drawings needed for a seven-minute cartoon from around 14,000 to around 2,000.

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