Detailed Pedia

List of ursids

Brown bear in grass
Brown bear (Ursus arctos)

Ursidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, which includes the giant panda, brown bear, and polar bear, and many other extant and extinct mammals. A member of this family is called an ursid or a bear. They are widespread across the Americas and Eurasia. Bear habitats are generally forests, though some species can be found in grassland and savana regions, and the polar bear lives in arctic and aquatic habitats. Most bears are 1.2–2 m (4–7 ft) long, plus a 3–20 cm (1–8 in) tail, though the polar bear is 2.2–2.44 m (7–8 ft) long, and some subspecies of brown bear can be up to 2.8 m (9 ft). Weights range greatly from the sun bear, which can be as low as 35 kg (77 lb), to the polar bear, which can be as high as 726 kg (1,600 lb). Population sizes vary, with six species classified as vulnerable with populations as low as 500, while the brown bear has a population of over 100,000 and the American black bear around 800,000. No ursid species have been domesticated, though some bears have been trained for entertainment.[1]

The eight species of Ursidae are split into five genera in three subfamilies: the monotypic Ailuropodinae, the panda bears; Tremarctinae, the short-faced bears; and Ursinae, containing all other extant bears. Extinct species have also been placed into all three extant subfamilies, as well as four extinct ones: Agriotheriinae, Amphicynodontinae, Hemicyoninae, and Ursavinae. Over 100 extinct Ursidae species have been found, though due to ongoing research and discoveries the exact number and categorization is not fixed.


IUCN Red List categories
Conservation status
 EX Extinct (0 species)
 EW Extinct in the wild (0 species)
 CR Critically endangered (0 species)
 EN Endangered (0 species)
 VU Vulnerable (6 species)
 NT Near threatened (0 species)
 LC Least concern (2 species)
Other categories
 DD Data deficient (0 species)
 NE Not evaluated (0 species)

Conservation status codes listed follow the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Range maps are provided wherever possible; if a range map is not available, a description of the bear's range is provided. Ranges are based on the IUCN red list for that species unless otherwise noted. All extinct species or subspecies listed alongside extant species went extinct after 1500 CE, and are indicated by a dagger symbol "Extinct". Population figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.


The family Ursidae consists of eight extant species belonging to five genera in three subfamilies and divided into dozens of extant subspecies. This does not include ursid hybrid species such as grizzly–polar bear hybrids or extinct prehistoric species.


Ursus (American black / Asian black / brown / polar bear)

Helarctos (sun bear)

Melursus (sloth bear)


Tremarctos (spectacled bear)


Ailuropoda (giant panda)


The following classification is based on the taxonomy described by Mammal Species of the World (2005), with augmentation by generally accepted proposals made since using molecular phylogenetic analysis; this includes the division of the giant panda into two subspecies. There are several additional proposals which are disputed, such as reclassifying the subspecies of the brown bear into a smaller set of clades,[2][3] which are not included here.

Subfamily Ailuropodinae

Genus Ailuropoda (H. Milne-Edwards, 1870) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Giant panda

Black and white bear on ground

A. melanoleuca
David, 1869

Central China
Mapa distribuicao Ailuropoda melanoleuca.png
Size: 150–180 cm (59–71 in) long, plus 10–15 cm (4–6 in) tail
80–123 kg (176–271 lb)[4][5]

Habitat: Forest[6]

Diet: Eats only bamboo[6]

500-1,000 Population increasing[6]

Subfamily Tremarctinae

Genus Tremarctos (Gervais, 1855) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Spectacled bear

Black bear with brown face on rock

T. ornatus
F. Cuvier, 1825
Andes mountains in South America
Tremarctos ornatus distribution.svg
Size: 120–200 cm (47–79 in) long, plus 7 cm (3 in) tail
60–175 kg (132–386 lb)[7]

Habitat: Shrubland, grassland, and forest[8]

Diet: Primarily eats bromeliads and palm trees, as well as cattle, other mammals, and fruit[8]

2,500-10,000 Population declining[8]

Subfamily Ursinae

Genus Helarctos (Horsfield, 1825) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Sun bear

Black bear with brown face and orange marking on chest on rock

H. malayanus
Raffles, 1821

Southeast Asia (current range in brown, former in black)
Sun Bear area.png
Size: 120–150 cm (47–59 in) long, plus 3–7 cm (1–3 in) tail
35–80 kg (77–176 lb)[9][10]

Habitat: Forest and shrubland[11]

Diet: Primarily eats termites, ants, beetle larvae, bee larvae, honey, and fruit[11]

50,000[12] Population declining[11]

Genus Melursus (Meyer, 1793) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Sloth bear

Black bear with gray face on rock

M. ursinus
Shaw, 1791

India (current range in green, former in black)
Sloth Bear area.png
Size: 150–180 cm (59–71 in) long, plus 7–12 cm (3–5 in) tail
54–141 kg (119–311 lb)[13]

Habitat: Shrubland, grassland, forest, and savanna[14]

Diet: Primarily eats termites and fruit[14]

6,000–11,000[15] Population declining[14]

Genus Ursus (Linnaeus, 1758) – four species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
American black bear

Black bear in grass

U. americanus
Pallas, 1780

North America (current range in red, former in pink)
Ursus americanus IUCN range map extant and extirpated.png
Size: 120–200 cm (47–79 in) long, plus 8–14 cm (3–6 in) tail
39–409 kg (86–902 lb)[16]

Habitat: Forest, inland wetlands, grassland, shrubland, and desert[17]

Diet: Omnivorous; eats vegetation, roots, buds, fruit, nuts, insects, fish, mammals, and carrion[17]

735,000–941,000[18] Population increasing[17]

Asian black bear

Black bear with white chest marking on grass

U. thibetanus
Cuvier, 1823

South and East Asia (current range in brown, former in black)
Asian Black Bear area.png
Size: 120–180 cm (47–71 in) long, plus 6–11 cm (2–4 in) tail
65–150 kg (143–331 lb)[19]

Habitat: Forest, inland wetlands, grassland, and shrubland[20]

Diet: Eats vegetation, insects, fruit, nuts, ungulates, and livestock[20]

50,000[12] Population declining[20]

Brown bear

Brown bear in river

U. arctos
Linnaeus, 1758

Northern North America and northern and central Asia
Ursus arctos range map.svg
Size: 100–280 cm (39–110 in) long, plus 6–20 cm (2–8 in) tail
80–550 kg (176–1,213 lb)[21]

Habitat: Desert, forest, inland wetlands, grassland, and shrubland[22]

Diet: Omnivorous; eats grasses, herbs, roots, berries, nuts, insects, mammals, and fish[22]

110,000 Population steady[22]

Polar bear

White bear on snow

U. maritimus
Mulgrave, 1774
Polar North America and Asia
Polar bear range map.png
Size: 220–244 cm (87–96 in) long, plus 7–13 cm (3–5 in) tail
408–726 kg (900–1,600 lb)[23]

Habitat: Marine oceanic, shrubland, forest, grassland, marine coastal/supratidal, and marine intertidal[24]

Diet: Primarily eats seals, as well as walruses, beluga whales, birds, fish, vegetation and kelp[24]

23,000[25] Unknown[24]

Prehistoric ursids

In addition to extant bears, a number of prehistoric species have been discovered and classified as a part of Ursidae. In addition to being placed within the three extant subfamilies, they have been categorized within the extinct subfamilies Agriotheriinae, Amphicynodontinae, Hemicyoninae, and Ursavinae. There is no generally accepted classification of extinct ursid species. The species listed here are based on data from the Paleobiology Database, unless otherwise cited. Where available, the approximate time period the species was extant is given in millions of years before the present (Mya), also based on data from the Paleobiology Database.[26] All listed species are extinct; where a genus or subfamily within Ursidae comprises only extinct species, it is indicated with a dagger symbol Extinct.

  • Subfamily AgriotheriinaeExtinct
    • Genus AgriotheriumExtinct
      • A. africanum (3.6–2.5 Mya)
      • A. gregoryi
      • A. inexpetans (12–5.3 Mya)
      • A. insigne
      • A. schneideri (14–2.5 Mya)
      • A. sivalensis (5.4–3.6 Mya)
  • Subfamily Ailuropodinae
    • Tribe Ailuropodini
    • Tribe IndarctiniExtinct
      • Genus IndarctosExtinct
        • I. anthracitis
        • I. arctoides (9.7–8.7 Mya)
        • I. atticus (8.7–5.3 Mya)
        • I. nevadensis (11–4.9 Mya)
        • I. oregonensis (11–4.9 Mya)
        • I. salmontanus
        • I. vireti
        • I. zdanskyi
      • Genus MiomaciExtinct (12–9.7 Mya)
        • M. pannonicum (12–9.7 Mya)
  • Subfamily AmphicynodontinaeExtinct
    • Genus AllocyonExtinct (31–20 Mya)
      • A. loganensis (31–20 Mya)
    • Genus AmphicticepsExtinct (34–23 Mya)
      • A. dorog (34–28 Mya)
      • A. makhchinus (34–28 Mya)
      • A. shackelfordi (29–23 Mya)
    • Genus AmphicynodonExtinct
      • A. helveticus
      • A. leptorhynchus (34–28 Mya)
      • A. teilhardi (34–28 Mya)
      • A. typicus (34–28 Mya)
    • Genus KolponomosExtinct (24–15 Mya)
      • K. clallamensis (24–20 Mya)
      • K. newportensis (21–15 Mya)
    • Genus PachycynodonExtinct
      • P. boriei (34–28 Mya)
      • P. crassirostris (34–28 Mya)
      • P. dubius (34–28 Mya)
      • P. obtusus (29–23 Mya)
    • Genus ParictisExtinct
      • P. dakotensis (34–33 Mya)
      • P. gilpini (34–33 Mya)
      • P. major (38–33 Mya)
      • P. montanus (38–33 Mya)
      • P. parvus (38–33 Mya)
      • P. personi (38–33 Mya)
      • P. primaevus
      • P. princeous
  • Subfamily HemicyoninaeExtinct
    • Tribe CephalogaliniExtinct
      • Genus AdelpharctosExtinct (34–23 Mya)
        • A. ginsburgi (29–23 Mya)
        • A. mirus (34–28 Mya)
      • Genus CephalogaleExtinct
        • C. geoffroyi
        • C. meschethense (29–23 Mya)
        • C. minor (34–28 Mya)
      • Genus CyonarctosExtinct (29–23 Mya)
        • C. dessei (29–23 Mya)
      • Genus FilholictisExtinct
        • F. filholi
      • Genus PhoberogaleExtinct
        • P. depereti
        • P. shareri (31–20 Mya)
    • Tribe HemicyoniniExtinct
      • Genus DinocyonExtinct
        • D. aurelianensis
        • D. sansaniensis
        • D. thenardi (17–15 Mya)
      • Genus HemicyonExtinct
        • H. barbouri (14–10 Mya)
        • H. goriachensis
        • H. grivensis
        • H. minor
        • H. sansaniensis (16–12 Mya)
        • H. statzlingii
      • Genus ZaragocyonExtinct (23–20 Mya)
        • Z. daamsi (23–20 Mya)
    • Tribe PhoberocyoniniExtinct
      • Genus PhoberocyonExtinct
        • P. aurelianensis (21–7.2 Mya)
        • P. huerzeleri
        • P. johnhenryi (21–15 Mya)
      • Genus PlithocyonExtinct (16–11 Mya)
        • P. armagnacensis (16–11 Mya)
        • P. barstowensis (16–13 Mya)
        • P. ursinus (16–13 Mya)
  • Subfamily Tremarctinae
    • Genus Arctodus (short-faced bear)Extinct (1.8–0.012 Mya)
      • A. pristinus (lesser short-faced bear) (1.8–0.012 Mya)
      • A. simus (giant short-faced bear) (1.8–0.012 Mya)
    • Genus ArctotheriumExtinct
      • A. brasiliense (0.13–0.012 Mya)
      • A. brasiliensis
      • A. bonariense
      • A. enectum
      • A. pamparum
      • A. tarijense (2.6–0.78 Mya)
      • A. wingei (2.6–0.012 Mya)
    • Genus PlionarctosExtinct (10.3–1.8 Mya)
      • P. edensis (10.3–4.9 Mya)
      • P. harroldorum (4.9–1.8 Mya)
    • Genus Tremarctos (1.8 Mya–present)
  • Subfamily UrsavinaeExtinct
    • Tribe UrsaviniExtinct
      • Genus UrsavusExtinct
        • U. brevirhinus (16–9.7 Mya)
        • U. elmensis (dawn bear) (16–13 Mya)
        • U. pawniensis (24–5.3 Mya)
        • U. primaevus (14–9.7 Mya)
  • Subfamily Ursinae

See also


  1. ^ a b Extinct prehistoric subspecies of an extant species


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