Nov 29, 2012


 So I was doing some bear designs, because bears come in all shapes and sizes.  But before the drawings, her are some fun bear facts:

  • There are only eight species of bears (more on that below)
  • There are 16 subspecies of brown bear, though some argue that there should be as many as 90
  • There is one subspecies of brown bear (the Tibetan blue bear) that has never been photographed before
  • Bears' closest taxonomic relatives are dogs, raccoons, and seals
  • Adult male bears are called 'boars' and females are called 'sows,' like pigs.  Cubs are called 'cubs'.

Sloth Bear

Sloth bears live throughout India.  They are highly likely to attack humans, and don't have particularly good relationships with other predators of India: tigers and leopards will attack them, elephants won't allow them into their territory, and rhinos will charge them.  Baloo from The Jungle Book, while described as a 'brown bear,' displays all the behaviors (and lives in the range) of a sloth bear.

Giant Panda

Giant pandas have only recently been added to the list of bears, after having been originally put in that category, then removed (and placed with raccoons).  DNA testing has shown that they are probably a breakaway from the South American spectacled bear.  They have a 'false thumb' that allows them to hold the bamboo they eat.

Sun Bear

Sun bears are the smallest member of the bear family, found across southeast Asia.  They are sometimes bred as pets, due to their docile nature. 

Asian Black Bear

Described by Rudyard Kipling as "the most bizarre of the ursine species," Asian black bears are very closely related to the American black bear.  They are arboreal, having strong upper bodies with which they climb trees.  While they are more agressive than most Eurasian bears, they are also the most regularly tamed for use in circuses.

Brown Bear (Grizzly)

The brown bear is the largest land-based predator in the world and is spread across North American and Eurasia.  It comes in many sizes, varieties, and forms, from the smallish Syrian brown bear, to the huge Kodiak bear, to the shaggy, desert-dwelling Gobi bear.  It was the only bear species found in Africa until the late 1800's, when the African subspecies (the Atlas bear) was hunted to extinction.

American Black Bear

American black bears are found throughout North America.  They are medium-sized and rather docile. Their color actually ranges, from black (usually) to brown (sometimes) to blond (rarely).

Spectacled Bear

The spectacled bear (or Andean bear) lives in the Andes mountains.  It's the closest relative to the prehistoric short-faced bears.  They are docile and mostly herbivorous (they eat small amounts of meat).  The most famous spectacled bear (though I didn't know it until today) is the marmalade-sandwich-eating, British children's storybook bear Paddington.

Polar Bear

The polar bear is the largest bear species in the world.  It is entirely carnivorous (rare for bears) and has an incredibly sensitive sense of smell, which allows it to sense seals in dens between the ice and snow of the arctic.  They stay warm with up to 4 inches of blubber and thick underlayers of fur.

The full lineup: eight species of bears from around the world

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