Atlas bear

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Atlas bear
Probable Atlas bear in Roman mosaic
Conservation status
Extinct  (1870s)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species: U. arctos
Subspecies: U. a. crowtheri
Trinomial name
Ursus arctos crowtheri
Schinz, 1844

The Atlas bear (Ursus arctos crowtheri) is an extinct subspecies of the brown bear, which is sometimes classified as a distinct species.

Range and description[edit]

The Atlas bear was Africa's only native bear that survived into modern times. Once inhabiting the Atlas Mountains and neighbouring areas, from Morocco to Libya, the animal is now thought to be extinct. The Atlas bear was brownish black in colour, and lacked a white mark on the muzzle. The fur on the underparts was reddish orange. The fur was 4–5 inches (100–130 mm) long. The muzzle and claws were shorter than those of the American black bear, though it was stouter and thicker in body. It apparently fed on roots, acorns and nuts.[1]


Thousands of these bears were hunted for sport, venatio games, or execution of criminals ad bestias following the expansion of the Roman Empire into North Africa (beginning in 146 BC with the creation of Africa, and completed in 44 AD by the annexation of Mauretania).[citation needed] The last known specimen was killed in 1890 by hunters in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco, although unverified reports surfaced until 1930.[2] The possibility has been raised that the species might still be alive in eastern Africa, and is the source of the cryptid known as the nandi bear, but this hypothesis has essentially been ruled out by biogeography.[citation needed] Nonetheless, as the known distribution of the Atlas bear is a relict of the desertification of the Sahara,[citation needed] its ancestor may have been widespread in northern and eastern Africa in prehistoric times.


  1. ^ Bruin: The Grand Bear Hunt, Mayne Reid, Ticknor and Fields, 1865
  2. ^ Brown, Gary. The Great Bear Almanac. Guilford, CT, 1993, pg. 281.
  • Hamdinea, Watik; Thévenotb, Michel; Michaux, Jacques (1998). "Histoire récente de l'ours brun au Maghreb". Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences (in French) 321 (7): 565–570. doi:10.1016/S0764-4469(98)80458-7. 
  • Day, David (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. Viking Press. pages 168-170 (includes illustration) ISBN 0-670-27987-0

External links[edit]