1. The dawn bear: Europe's Miocene mystery
The dawn bear, 'Usavus elemensis', was a small, dog-sized bear that lived in sub-tropical forests across Europe during the Miocene period. This extinct species is believed to be the predecessor of the modern-day bear, and is thought to have been a key factor in the evolution of the species. It was a highly adaptable creature, able to survive in a variety of climates and habitats, and its small size allowed it to take advantage of resources that larger bears could not. Its disappearance from the fossil record is still a mystery, but its legacy lives on in the form of the bears we know today.
2. Eight Different Bears Species Live in the World
Today, there are eight species of bears that inhabit the world. The two largest species, the polar bear and the brown bear, can weigh up to 220 and 1500 lbs respectively, while the smaller species, such as the giant panda and sun bear, typically weigh less than 300 lbs each. Polar bears are the largest land carnivores in the world, while the giant panda is the only bear species that is entirely herbivorous. Sun bears are the smallest species of bear, and are native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.
3. Bears have an incredibly sharp sense of smell
Bears possess an incredibly sharp sense of smell, far surpassing that of any other mammal. In fact, their sense of smell is so acute that they can detect food from up to 18 miles away! This remarkable ability is due to the fact that bears have a larger olfactory bulb and more olfactory receptor cells than any other mammal, allowing them to detect even the faintest of scents. This keen sense of smell is an invaluable asset to bears, helping them to locate food, detect predators, and even recognize their own cubs.
4. What They Eat
Bears are typically carnivorous, but the Polar Bear is an exception. They feed on a variety of items, including rodents, fish, insects, berries, nuts, and fruit. Unlike other bears, they don't have a sweet tooth for honey. This diet of varied items helps them survive in their Arctic habitat.
5. Bears go into hibernation
During the winter months, bears are known to retreat to their dens and enter a state of hibernation. During this time, they will not eat, drink, or urinate for months on end, relying on stored fat reserves to sustain them. However, if disturbed, they may emerge from their dens, albeit briefly. This remarkable ability to survive without sustenance for such a long period of time is a testament to the strength and resilience of the bear species.
Also → North Dakota's grizzly bears
6. Bears Awaken in January to Give Birth to Cubs
In January, a mother bear awakens from her long winter hibernation to give birth to her cubs. She is then responsible for taking care of them, providing them with food, shelter, and protection until they are old enough to survive on their own. During this time, the mother bear will teach her cubs the skills they need to survive in the wild, such as how to find food, how to recognize danger, and how to build a den.
7. Bears Use Vocalizations to Communicate
Bears are highly communicative animals, using a variety of vocalizations to express themselves. From barking and growling to whining and roaring, bears use these sounds to give warnings, raise alarms, and even display excitement. If you find yourself in close proximity to a bear, it's best to make a lot of noise to scare it away.
8. Bears are incredibly intelligent mammals
Bears are incredibly intelligent mammals, possessing a large brain that allows them to navigate large territories with ease. They are renowned for their impressive memory, able to remember routes and landmarks for extended periods of time. This intelligence has enabled them to survive in a variety of habitats, from the Arctic tundra to the dense forests of North America.
9. Polar Bears are the Fastest Swimmers of All Bear Species
Polar bears are the most impressive swimmers of all bear species, capable of reaching speeds of up to 3 to 6 miles per hour. This is an incredible feat, considering that the average human swimmer can only reach speeds of around 2 miles per hour. Polar bears are able to swim for long distances, sometimes up to 60 miles in a single day, and can even dive to depths of up to 15 feet in search of food. Their swimming prowess is an essential part of their survival in the Arctic environment.
10. Bears are some of the most recognizable animals in the world
Bears are some of the most recognizable animals in the world, with their thick, shaggy fur, short rounded ears, and plantigrade paws with non-retractile claws. These features make them easily distinguishable from other animals, and their claws are especially unique, as they are not able to retract them like other animals. This allows them to be incredibly adept at climbing trees and digging for food.