Black Bear
Scientific classification
A bear is a large mammal of the order Carnivora, family Ursidae. The adjective ursine is used to describe bears.

Table of contents
1 Physical Attributes
2 Habitats
3 Reproductive Behavior
4 Other
5 Classification
6 Evolutionary Relationships
7 Further Reading
8 Miscellaneous

Physical Attributes

Common characteristics between bears include dense fur, a short tail, great ability of smell and hearing, five un-retractable claws, and long and shaggy fur.

Bears have a large body with powerful limbs. They walk very much like humans do. They have broad paws, long snouts, and round ears. Their teeth are used for defense and tools and depend on the diet of the bear. Their claws are used for ripping, digging, and catching.


Bears live in a variety of habitats from the tropics to the Arctic and from forests to snowfields. They are mainly omnivores, although some have a more specialised diet, such as polar bears. They eat lichens, roots, nuts, and berries. They can also go to a river or other body of water to capture fish. Bears will commonly travel far from food. Hunting times are usually in the dusk or the dawn except when humans are nearby.

Some of the large species, such as the Polar Bear and the Grizzly Bear are dangerous to humans especially in areas where they have become used to people, but in most part, bears are shy and are easily frightened of humans. They will, however, defend a cubs' nest ferociously.

Reproductive Behavior

The bear's courtship period is very brief. Bears reproduce seasonally, usually after hibernation. Cubs come out toothless, blind, and bald. The cubs, usually born in litters of 1-3, will stay with the mother for six months, where they will be fed by milk and will start hunting with the mother in three months. Then, they are weaned. However, they will still remain nearby for three years. The cubs are sexually mature at seven years. Normally, bears are very solitary and will not remain close together for long periods of time.


Many bears of northern regions hibernate in the winter. They actually don't hibernate. Their body temperature sinks a relatively low amount and they can be easily awakend.

Laws have been passed in many areas of the world to protect bears from hunters or habitat destruction. Bears in captivity used to trained to dance, box, or unicycle, but it is now controversial to use animals in this way.

Bears have an average LE of 25-40 years.


Evolutionary Relationships

Bears are evolved from dog-like animals. They are related to walruses, raccons, and sea lions.

There has been much discussion as to whether the Giant Panda belongs to the bear family or the raccoon family. The pandas are closely related to both. Recent DNA analysis seems to indicate that the Giant Panda is more closely related to other bears and the Red Panda is more closely related to the raccoon.

Bears are very recently evolved.

Further Reading

  • Bears of the World, Terry Domico, Photographs by Terry Domico and Mark Newman, Facts on File, Inc, 1988, hardcover, ISBN 0816015368