Ursus arctos crowtheri
a.k.a.‭ ‬Atlas bear,‭ ‬Atlas brown bear

Name: Ursus arctos crowtheri.
Phonetic: Ur-sus ark-tos krow-fe-ree.
Named By: Heinrich Rudolf Schinz‭ ‬-‭ ‬1844.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Carnivora,‭ ‬Ursidae.‭
Species: U.‭ ‬arctos crowtheri.
Diet: Herbivore/omnivore‭?
Size: No larger than a black bear,‭ ‬which are known to range from‭ ‬120-200‭ ‬centimetres long,‭ ‬10-105‭ ‬centimetres high at the shoulder.
Known locations: The Atlas Mountains of north Africa.‭ ‬Especially well known from Morocco.
Time period: Holocene,‭ ‬possibly going extinct at some point in the late nineteenth century.
Fossil representation: Numerous fossils.‭ ‬Records exist of living bears.

       The Atlas bear‭ (‬Ursus arctos crowtheri‭) ‬is today considered to be an extinct sub species of the brown bear‭ (‬Ursus arctos‭); ‬although some researchers think that it should be treated as a distinct species in its own right.‭ ‬The Atlas bear seems to have been the last of the African bears‭ (‬Agriotherium and Indarctos lived much earlier‭)‬,‭ ‬and the only one so far known to have been naturally exclusive to the African continent.‭ ‬Though a relative of the huge brown bear,‭ ‬the Atlas bear is actually noted as being smaller than the black bear‭ (‬Ursus americanus‭)‬.‭ ‬The coat of long ten to twelve centimetre long hair was a dark brown almost black on top,‭ ‬but red-orange underneath.‭ ‬Both snout and claws are reported as being proportionately shorter than the black bear.‭ ‬The Atlas bear seems to have been mostly herbivorous with reports suggesting it fed upon the more nutritious parts of plants such as roots,‭ ‬nuts and even acorns.‭ ‬However as a group bears are noted as being omnivorous,‭ ‬and while many have a predilection towards one kind of food over another,‭ ‬Atlas bears would have likely been biologically capable of eating meat as well.
       As with far too many animals the Atlas bear seems to have gone extinct entirely from human contact,‭ ‬especially from such activities as trapping and hunting.‭ ‬The atlas bear was known to the Romans,‭ ‬who according to historical reports,‭ ‬captured large numbers of these bears to fight in gladiatorial arenas,‭ ‬either against professional hunters,‭ ‬or pitted against criminals that were punished by being thrown to wild animals.‭ ‬Some Roman mosaics also depict creatures which may well represent Atlas bears.‭ ‬In‭ ‬1830‭ ‬the king of Morocco had at least one Atlas bear living in captivity and also that year supplied a bear to the Zoological garden of Marseille which then became the holotype of the species.‭ ‬The last Atlas bear to be killed by hunters is often reported to have been killed in‭ ‬1870‭ ‬in the Tetuan Mountains.‭ ‬Today the Atlas bear is officially recorded as being extinct,‭ ‬probably disappearing in the late nineteenth century.‭
       Despite this however,‭ ‬sightings of bear-like animals are sometimes reported in regions where the Atlas bear used to live,‭ ‬with some speculating that it maybe the mythical‭ ‘‬Nandi bear‭’‬.‭ ‬Unfortunately however,‭ ‬no bodies or other evidence‭ (‬hair,‭ ‬scat,‭ ‬dens,‭ ‬etc.‭) ‬of still living bears have so far been found.‭ ‬Assuming that the sightings are genuine,‭ ‬then it’s possible that they could simply be cases of mistaken identity.

Further reading
- Ancient DNA evidence for the loss of a highly divergent brown bear clade during historical times. - Molecular Ecology 17 (8): 1962–1970. S. Calvignac, S. Hughes, C. Tougard, J. Michaux, M. Thevenot, M. Philippe, W. Hamdine & C. Hanni - 2008.


Random favourites