STL Science Center

STL Science Center

20 January 2018

The Biggest Bear

There is a plush Wookie on my table where I was trying to think of what animal we should focus on this week. The animals I decided to discuss this week, after staring at the plush toy for a few minutes, constitute the largest genera of bears that ever walked the planet. Consisting of 5 recognized species, the genus Arctotherium is a group of bears estimated to weigh in at a range from 1,588 to 1,749 kg (3,501 to 3,856 lb), though its height is similar to its ancestors, the bears of Arctodus. Most closely related to the extant Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) of South America, Arctotherium represents one of the many animals that moved from North America to South America in the midst of the Great American Interchange. The largest specimen of the genus is an animal representing A. angustidens Gervais and Ameghino, 1880 recovered from Argentina. The other four species (A. vetustum Ameghino, 1885; A. wingei Ameghino, 1902; A. bonariense Gervais, 1852, type; A. tarijense Ameghino, 1902).

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