North American Late Pleistocene Bear: Diversity and Resource for Early Peoples

Author(s): Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales; Eileen Johnson

Year: 2017


North America had a large and varied bear diversity (Mammalia, Carnivora, Ursidae) during the late Pleistocene. At least seven species occurred from southern Mexico and Belize north, as far as Alaska and the Yukon, constituting the subfamilies Tremarctinae and Ursinae. Tremarctinae had at least four species: two short-faced bears pertaining to the genus Arctodus; the spectacled bear Tremarctos floridanus; and an undescribed species, probably within the genus Arctotherium. All of which are extinct today. The three ursine species are extant, but their populations and distribution ranges have diminished from the late Pleistocene into the Holocene. The polar bear Ursus maritimus now is at high risk for extinction, and the grizzly bear U. arctos is threatened. The black bear U. americanus, however, is increasing its populations in some areas of its range. Few records of human-bear interaction in the Late Pleistocene are known. Those records are focused on bear being a subsistence resource for early peoples. Primary evidence is based on bone modifications. Their procurement and possible impact that such an interaction had on the diminishing bear diversity, based on the extinction patterns, is explored.

Cite this Record

North American Late Pleistocene Bear: Diversity and Resource for Early Peoples. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, Eileen Johnson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431211)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17311