The Biggest Bear Ever
More detail on the short-faced bear:
“After studying the skeletal record, Matheus determined that Arctodus was a pacer. That is, both of its right legs moved forward together, then both left legs moved forward in unison. This is the primary means of locomotion for elephants and camels. Pacing isn’t particularly fast, but it is very energy-efficient. An animal that is built for pacing is designed for endurance rather than speed.
So where does this leave Arctodus in the grand Pleistocene scheme? This monster ate only meat, yet it seems to have been ill equipped physically as a hunter. Matheus believes the answer is clear, and reflects some recent theories concerning another prehistoric monster, Tyrannosaurus: “Arcotdus,” he claims, was a scavenger.” The largest bear to have ever paced the earth depended upon other predators to make the kills it needed to survive.
“Arctodus located carrion by rising up on its hind feet and sniffing the air,” Matheus surmises. “Standing is something to which its skeleton was well suited.” The tall bear’s upright posture would have placed its wide nose high in the air, allowing it to detect even far off food sources. Arctodus could then drop down on its lanky legs and pace steadily, tirelessly, to even distant kills. Once there, the bear probably used its size to intimidate lesser carnivores and drive them away from their prey.
The short–faced bear was, in this way well-suited for survival in Pleistocene Alaska, but its fate may have been inextricably linked to the climate of that age. The warming temperatures that caused the great glaciers sheeting much of the North American continent at the time to recede also gradually transformed the arid, grassy steppes of Interior Alaska into the boreal forests of today.”