Arctodus simus Cope, 1879

Giant short-faced bear, Bulldog bear



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status

Last record: Late Pleistocene



North America (including New Mexico)


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Cope, Edward Drinker. (1879). The cave bear of California. American Naturalist 13: 791.


Other references:

Baghai-Riding, Nina L., Husley, Danielle B., Beck, Christine and Blackwell, Eric. (2017). Late Pleistocene megafauna from Mississippi alluvium plain gravel bars. Paludicola 11(3): 124-147. [automatic download]

Bocherens, Hervé. (2015). Isotopic tracking of large carnivore palaeoecology in the mammoth steppe. Quaternary Science Reviews 117: 42-71. [Abstract]

Bocherens, H., S. D. Emslie, D. Billiou, and A. Mariotti. (1995). Stable isotopes (13C,15N) and paleodiet of the giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus). Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences, Série 2, Sciences de la terre et des planètes 320: 779-784.

Bravo-Cuevas, Victor Manuel and Jiménez-Hidalgo, Eduardo. (2018). Advances on the Paleobiology of Late Pleistocene mammals from central and southern Mexico, pp. 277-313. In: Huard, Gaeten and Gareau, Jeannine (eds.). The Pleistocene: Geography, Geology, and Fauna. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Carbone, C., T. Maddox, P.J. Funston, M.G.L. Mills, G.F. Grether, and B. Van Valkenburgh. (2009). Parallels between playbacks and Pleistocene tar seeps suggest sociality in an extinct sabretooth cat, Smilodon. Biology Letters 5: 81-85. [relevant citation?]

Christiansen, Per. (1999a). What size were Arctodus simus and Ursus spelaeus (Carnivora: Ursidae)? Ann. Zool. Fennici 36: 93-102.

Christiansen, P. (1999b). Scaling of the limb long bones to body mass in terrestrial mammals. Journal of Morphology 239: 167-190.

Churcher, C. S., Morgan, A. V. and Carter, L. D. (1993). Arctodus simus from the Alaskan Arctic Slope. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30: 1007-1013. [Abstract]

Conkling, R. P. (1932). Conkling Cavern: The discoveries in the bone cave at Bishops Cap, New Mexico. West Texas Historical and Scientific Society Bulletin 44: 39-41.

Cox, S. M. (1991). Size range or sexual dimorphism in Arctodus simus from Rancho La Brea: Abstract #15, Annual Meeting of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

Czaplewski, Nicholas J., Mead, Jim I. and Peachey, William D. (2022). Late Pleistocene vertebrate fauna of Pyeatt Cave, Huachuca Mountains, Cochise County, Arizona. In: Morgan, Gary S. et al. Late Cenozoic Vertebrates from the American Southwest: A Tribute to Arthur H. Harris. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 88: 301-326.

Czaplewski, Nicholas J., Rogers, Kyler J. and Russell, Clayton. (2018). Late Pleistocene vertebrates from Three-Forks Cave, Adair County, Oklahoma Ozark Hiughland. Journal of Cave & Karst Studies 80(2): 1-16. [Abstract]

DeSantis, Larisa R. G., Schubert, Blaine W., Schmitt-Linville, Elizabeth, Ungar, Peter S., Donohue, Shelly L. and Haupt, Ryan J. (2015). Dental Microwear Textures of Carnivorans from the La Brea Tar Pits, California, and Potential Extinction Implications, pp. 37-52. In: Harris, John M. (ed.). La Brea and Beyond: The Paleontology of Asphalt-Preserved Biotas. Los Angeles, California: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Science Series No. 42. 174 pp.

Dickinson, Edwin et al. (2022). A morphological analysis of Carnivoran ossicles from Rancho La Brea. Journal of Morphology.

Donohue SL, DeSantis LRG, Schubert BW, Ungar PS. (2013). Was the Giant Short-Faced Bear a Hyper-Scavenger? A New Approach to the Dietary Study of Ursids Using Dental Microwear Textures. PLoS ONE 8(10): e77531.

Emslie, S. D., and N. J. Czaplewski. (1985). A new record of the giant shortfaced bear, Arctodus simus, from western North America with a reevaluation of its paleobiology. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Contributions in Science 371: 1-12.

Faunmap working group. 1994 FAUNMAP: a database documenting late Quaternary distributions of mammal species in the United States. Illinois State Museum Scientific Papers 25(1-2), 1-690.

Ferrusquía-Villafranca I., Arroyo-Cabrales J., Martínez-Hernández E., Gama-Castro J., Ruiz-González J., Polaco O.J., Johnson E. (2010). Pleistocene mammals of Mexico: A critical review of regional chronofaunas, climate change response and biogeographic provinciality. Quaternary International 217(1-2): 53-104.

Fiedel, S. 2009. Sudden deaths: The chronology of terminal Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, pp. 21-37. In: Haynes, G. (ed.). American Megafaunal Extinctions at the End of the Pleistocene. Springer Science + Business Media. 201 pp.

Figueirido, Borja et al. (2017). Dental caries in the fossil record: a window to the evolution of dietary plasticity in an extinct bear. Scientific Reports 7: 17813.

Borja Figueirido, Juan A. Pérez-Claros, Vanessa Torregrosa, Alberto Martín-Serra, and Paul Palmqvist. (2010). Demythologizing Arctodus simus, the ‘Short-Faced’ Long-Legged and Predaceous Bear that Never Was. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(1): 262-275.

Gilbert, B. M. and Martin, L. D. (1984). Late Pleistocene fossils of Natural Trap Cave, Wyoming, and the climatic model of extinction, pp. 138-147. In: Martin, P.S., Klein, R.G. (Eds.), Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press.

Gillette, David D. and Madsen, David B. (1992). The short-faced bear Arctodus simus from the late Quaternary in the Wasatch Mountains of central Utah. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 12(1): 107-112. [Abstract]

Gobetz, K. E. and Martin, L. D. (2001). An exceptionally large shortfaced Bear (Arctodus simus) from the Late Pleistocene (?)/Early Holocene of Kansas. Current Research in the Pleistocene 18: 97-99.

Harington, C. R. (1996). North American Short-Faced Bear. Beringian Research Notes 4: 1-4.

Harris, Arthur H. (1987). Reconstruction of Mid Wisconsin Environments in Southern New Mexico. National Geographic Research 3(2): 142-151.

Harris, Arthur H. (1993). Quaternary vertebrates of New Mexico, pp. 179-197. In: Vertebrate Paleontology in New Mexico, New Mexico Museum of Natural History, Bulletin 2:i-vii, 1-338.

Harris, A. H., and J. S. Findley. 1964. Pleistocene-Recent fauna of the Isleta Caves, Bernalillo County, New Mexico. American Journal of Science 262:114-120.

Hawksley, O. (1965). Short-Faced Bear (Arctodus) Fossils from Ozark Caves. Bulletin of the National Speleological Society 27: 77–92.

Hibbard, Claude W. and Taylor, Dwight W. (1960). Two late Pleistocene faunas from southwestern Kansas. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, The University of Michigan 16(1): 1-223 pp., 16 pls., 18 figs.

Jefferson, G. T. 1991. A catalogue of Late Quaternary vertebrates from California. Part two: Mammals. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Technical Reports 7: 1-129.

Kubiak, Cara et al. (2022). Dietary niche separation of three Late Pleistocene bear species from Vancouver Island, on the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Journal of Quaternary Science.

Kurtén, B. (1967). Pleistocene bears of North America. 2. Genus Arctodus, short-faced bears. Acta Zool. Fennica 117: 1-60.

Kurtén, B. and Anderson, E. (1974). Association of Ursus arctos and Arctodus simus (Mammalia: Ursidae) in the late Pleistocene of Wyoming. Breviora 426: 1-6.

Kurtén, B., and E. Anderson. 1980. Pleistocene mammals of North America. Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 442 pp.

Lundelius, E. L., Jr. 1984. A late Pleistocene mammalian fauna from Cueva Quebrada, Val Verde County, Texas. Pp. 456-481, in, Contributions in Quaternary vertebrate paleontology: A volume in memorial to John E. Guilday (H. H. Genoways and M. R. Dawson, eds.). Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Special Publication No. 8: i-v + 1-538.

Martin, Larry D. and Gilbert, B. Miles. (1978). Excavations at Natural Trap Cave. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences and Affiliated Societies. Paper 336. [record of Arctodus simus from Natural Trap Cave, Wyoming]

Matheus, Paul E. (1995). Diet and Co-ecology of Pleistocene Short-Faced Bears and Brown Bears in Eastern Beringia. Quaternary Research 44(3): 447-453. [Abstract]

Matheus, Paul E. (1997). Paleoecology and Ecomorphology of the Giant Short-Faced Bear in Eastern Beringia (Arctodus simus). Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Matheus, Paul E. (2003a). Locomotor adaptations and ecomorphology of short-faced bears (Arctodus simus) in Eastern Beringia. Occasional Papers in Earth Sciences 7.

Matheus, P. E. (2003b). Locomotor adaptations and ecomorphology of short-faced bears (Arctodus simus) in eastern Beringia. Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada: Yukon Palaeontology Program, Dept. of Tourism and Culture.

Mattson, David J. (1998). Diet and Morphology of Extant and Recently Extinct Northern Bears. A Selection of Papers from the Tenth International Conference on Bear Research and Management, Fairbanks, Alaska, July 1995, and Mora, Sweden, September 1995. Ursus 10: 479-496. [Abstract]

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Morgan, G. S., and S. G. Lucas. 2005. Pleistocene vertebrate faunas in New Mexico from alluvial, fluvial, and lacustrine deposits. Pp. 185-248, in New Mexico's Ice Ages (Lucas, S. G., G. S. Morgan, and K. E. Zeigler, eds.). New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 28: 1-280.

Mychajliw, Alexis M. et al. (2020). Biogeographic problem-solving reveals the Late Pleistocene translocation of a short-faced bear to the California Channel Islands. Scientific Reports 10: 15172.

Nelson, M. E., and Madsen, J. H. (1983). A giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) from the Pleistocene of nothern Utah. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 86: 1-9. [Abstract]

Pajak, A. F., III, E. Scott, and C. J. Bell. 1996. A review of the biostratigraphy of Pliocene and Pleistocene sediments in the Elsinore Fault Zone, Riverside County, California. Pp. 28-49, in The Uses of Vertebrate Fossils in Biostratigraphic Correlation (C. J. Bell and S. S. Sumida, eds.). PaleoBios 17(2-4).

Pérez-Crespo, Víctor Adrián et al. (2016). Carbon and oxygen isotopic values for a short faced bear individual (Arctodus simus) from Cedral, San Luis Potosí, México. ICBS Proceedings [2016]: 57-61.

Puckette, William L. (1976). Notes on the Occurrence of the Short-Faced Bear (Arctodus) in Oklahoma. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 56: 67-68.

Richards, Ronald L. and Turnbull, William D. (1995). Giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus yukonensis) remains from Fulton County, northern Indiana. Fieldiana Geol. 30(1465): 1-34.

Richards, R. L., C. S. Churcher, and W. D. Turnbull. (1996). Distribution and size variation in North American short-faced bears, Arctodus simus; pp. 191–246 in K. M. Stewart and K. L. Seymour (eds.), Palaeoecology and Palaeoenvironments of Late Cenozoic Mammals: Tributes to the Career of C.S. (Rufus) Churcher. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario.

Salis, Alexander T. et al. (2021a). Ancient genomes reveal hybridisation between extinct short-faced bears and the extant spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus). bioRxiv preprint. doi: ["Posted February 05, 2021"]

Salis, Alexander T. et al. (2021b). Ancient genomes reveal hybridisation between extinct short-faced bears and the extant spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus). bioRxiv preprint. doi: ["Posted March 10, 2021"]

Schubert, Blaine W. (2001). Discovery of an Ancient Giant in an Ozark Cave. The Living Museum 63: 10-13.

Schubert, Blaine W. (2004). A full-glacial short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) from Perkins Cave, Missouri. CRP 21: 115-116.

Schubert, Blaine W. (2010). Late Quaternary chronology and extinction of North American giant short-faced bears (Arctodus simus). Quaternary International 217(1/2): 188-194. [Abstract]

Schubert, B. W., Cox, S. and Coltrain, J. (2013). The significance of Rancho La Brea for interpreting the paleobiology of giant short-faced bears. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Program and Abstracts, 207.

Schubert, Blaine W., and Kaufmann, James E. (2003). A Partial Short-Faced Bear Skeleton from an Ozark Cave with Comments on the Paleobiology of the Species. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 65(2): 101-110.

Schubert, Blaine W., Hulbert, Richard C. Jnr., MacFadden, Bruce J., Searle, Michael, and Searle, Seina. (2010). Giant short-faced bears (Arctodus simus) in Pleistocene Florida USA, a substantial range extension. Journal of Palaeontology 84(1): 79-87. [Abstract]

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Scott, Eric and Cox, Shelley M. (1993). [i]Arctodus simus[/i] (Cope, 1879) from Riverside County, California.  PaleoBios 15(2): 27-36.

Shaw, C. A., and S. M. Cox. 2006. Mammalian biostratigraphy in the Vallecito Creek-Fish Creek Basin, pp. 177-191. In: Jefferson, G. T. and Lindsay, L. (eds.). Fossil treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert. Sunbelt Publications, San Diego.

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Soibelzon, Leopoldo H., Tonni, Eduaro P. and Bond, Mariano. (2005). The fossil record of South American short-faced bears (Ursidae, Tremarctinae). Journal of South American Earth Sciences 20(1-2): 105-113. [Abstract]

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Steffen, Martina L. and Fulton, Tara L. (In Press, 2017). On the association of giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) and brown bear (Ursus arctos) in late Pleistocene North America. Geobios. [Abstract]

Steffen, Martina L. and Harington, C. R. (2010). Giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) from late Wisconsinan deposits at Cowichan Head, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 47(8): 1029-1036. [Abstract]

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Reports of a bear which pulls itself along the ground from the Kamchatka peninsula, dubbed 'Irkuiem', have been hypothesized by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman to be surviving Arctodus simus (Coleman, year?).



Coleman, Loren. (year?). [Irkuiem reports possibly refer to modern A. simus individuals, claims Coleman]. Strange Magazine 2: 24.


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