Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ailuropoda Helarctos Melursus Ursavus "true bear" Ursus Tremarctos Agriarctos (extinct) Amphicticeps (extinct) Amphicynodon (extinct) Arctodus (extinct)Bear Cephalogale (extinct) Indarctos (extinct) Parictis (extinct) Plionarctos (extinct)
Bears (family Ursidae) are large mammals in the order Carnivora. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere.
Common characteristics of modern bears include a large body with stocky legs, a long snout, shaggy hair, paws with five nonretractile claws, and a short tail. While the Polar Bear is mostly carnivorous and the Giant Panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous, with largely varied diets including both plants and animals.
With the exceptions of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals. They are sometimes diurnal, but are usually active during the night (nocturnal) or twilight (crepuscular). Bears are aided by an excellent sense of smell, and despite their heavy build and awkward gait, they can run quickly and be adept climbers and swimmers. Bears use shelters such as caves and burrows as their dens, which are occupied by most species during the winter for a long period of sleep similar to hibernation.
Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur. To this day, they play a prominent role in the arts, mythology, and other cultural aspects of various human societies. In modern times, bears have been exploited through the encroachment of their habitats and the illegal trade of bears and 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 is prohibited, but still ongoing.

Modern English "bear" derives from Old English "bera", which itself derives from Proto-Germanic "*beron" meaning "the brown one". (Compare Scandinavian "björn", Dutch "beer", Standard German "Bär" all meaning "bear").
Both Greek ("arktos") and Latin ("ursus") have retained the Proto-Indo-European root word for "bear" ("*rtko") but it was ritually replaced in the northern branches of the Indo-European languages (The Germanic, Baltic, Celtic and Slavic branches) because of the hunters' taboo on the names of wild animals. For example the Irish word for "bear" translated means "the good calf", in Welsh it translates as "honey-pig", in Lithuanian it means "the licker" and Russian "медведь" literally means "honey-wise".
In English, the adjective "ursine" is used to describe things of a bear-like nature, while the collective noun for a group of them is a sleuth.

Common characteristics of bears include a short tail, acute senses of smell and hearing, a snubbed nose, five non-retractable claws per paw, and long, dense, shaggy fur.
Bears have large bodies and powerful limbs. They are capable of standing up on their hind legs. They have broad paws, long snouts, and round ears. Their teeth are bared for defense and used as tools, depending on the diet of the bear. Their claws are used for ripping, digging, and catching.
Polar bears are the longest type, and in fact one of the largest extant carnivores, though Brown bears are the heaviest. The name was also used by J.R.R. Tolkien in his book "The Hobbit", where a bear-like character is named Beorn (this sounds identical to the Swedish word "Björn" when read aloud).

Family Ursidae

  • Subfamily Ailuropodinae

    • Giant Panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca
      Dwarf Panda, Ailuropoda minor (extinct)
      Subfamily Agriotherinae

      • Agriotherium (extinct)

        • Agriotherium inexpectans (extinct)
          Agriotherium sivalensis (extinct)
          Agriotherium roblesi (extinct)
          Agriotherium africanum (extinct)
          Subfamily Tremarctinae

          • Spectacled Bear, Tremarctos ornatus
            Florida Cave Bear, Tremarctos floridanus (extinct)
            Giant Short-Faced Bear, Arctodus simus (extinct)
            Short-Faced Bear, Arctodus pristinus (extinct)
            Brazilian Short-Faced Bear, Arctotherium brasilense (extinct)
            Argentine Short-Faced Bear, Arctotherium latidens (extinct)
            Subfamily Ursinae

            • Brown Bear, Ursus (Ursus) arctos

              • Subspecies Syrian (Brown) Bear Ursus arctos syriacus
                Subspecies Grizzly Bear, Ursus arctos horribilis
                Subspecies Kodiak Bear, Ursus arctos middendorffi
                Subspecies Himalayan Brown Bear, Ursus arctos isabellinus
                Subspecies Bergman's Bear, Ursus arctos piscator (extinct?)
                Atlas Bear, Ursus arctos crowtheri (extinct)
                American Black Bear, Ursus (Ursus) americanus

                • Subspecies Cinnamon Bear, Ursus americanus cinnamomum
                  Subspecies Kermode Bear, Ursus americanus kermodie
                  Polar Bear, Ursus (Thalarctos) maritimus
                  Asiatic Black Bear, Ursus (Selenarctos) thibetanus

                  • Formosan Black Bear, Ursus thibetanus formosanus
                    Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus
                    Ursus thibetanus japonica
                    Ursus thibetanus laniger
                    Ursus thibetanus mupinensis
                    Ursus thibetanus thibetanus
                    Ursus thibetanus ussuricu
                    Sloth Bear, Melursus ursinus

                    • Subspecies Sri Lankan Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus inornatus
                      Subspecies Indian Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus ursinus
                      Sun Bear, Helarctos malayanus

                      • Subspecies Borneo Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus euryspilus
                        Auvergne Bear, Ursus minimus (extinct)
                        Etruscan Bear, Ursus etruscus (extinct)
                        European Cave Bear, Ursus spelaeus (extinct)
                        MacFarlane's Bear, Ursus (Vetularctos) inopinatus (cryptid; if a good species, extinct)
                        Bears of the World, Terry Domico, Photographs by Terry Domico and Mark Newman, Facts on File, Inc, 1988, hardcover, ISBN 0-8160-1536-8
                        The Bear by William Faulkner
                        Celebrity bears
                        List of fatal bear attacks in North America by decade
                        List of fictional bears
                        List of historical bears
                        List of mammals
                        Mammal classification
                        "Bear", famous Ronald Reagan anti-Soviet campaign ad
                        Sankebetsu Higuma jiken
                        The Bears Project Information, reports and images of European brown bears and other living species
                        Grizzly Bear Outreach Project Information on the history, biology, and conservation of North American Grizzly Bears

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