In this fascinating article, note Smith bring away a closer look at the advancement of bears…

Recently my attention became drawn to an unusual organic curiosity; i wondered why there room no species of be affected by each other in Africa.

You are watching: Are there any bears in africa

Bears room remarkably adaptable and generalist species, they are qualified of life in forests, grasslands and also mountains. Your diet is omnivorous and on the whole wide-ranging across species. Top top the face of it, there seems to it is in no logical factor for the lack of this varieties from this continent. There are no bear species in Australia however this is easily explainable; in fact, mammal fauna in Australia is unique. Australia is home to a distinctive marsupial assemblage which result from the break-up of the continent native the supercontinent Gondwana, its last separation arisen in the Mesozoic (251-140 million year ago) trapping primitive mammals top top its shores. Africa, however, has a range of modern-day mammal taxa and niches indicative of the various other continents.

Thus began a search of the literary works to uncover the answer.

The faster mammals were tiny rodent-sized organisms and also the lineage of the bear have the right to be traced ago to the Palaeocene species Cimoloestes prior to the beginning of true carnivores and also the breakthrough of carnassial teeth.


The an initial true bears begin with Parictis a raccoon-sized mammal in phibìc America which led to Amphicynodon and Cephalogale, a wolf-hound size animal, discovered in 37 million-year-old Chinese deposits. Radiation of the varieties led come Phobercyon, Pithocyon and the aquatic be affected by each other Kolonomos.


Modern bear (Ursidae) exist in three sub-families Ailuropodinae (Giant Panda), Tremarctinae (Andean Bear) and also the Ursinae (all other bears). These three lineages usual ancestor was Ursavus elmensis. This varieties lived 20 million years ago; they source in Asia and also spread to north America. They were about 30 customs tall, adept climbers through distinctive omnivorous teeth and also probably comparable to modern Racoon Dogs.

The large Panda was for countless years a subject of debate concerning its ancestry and growing up I can remember it not being detailed as a bear; today, however, it has actually been shown that the gigantic Panda descended from Ailurarctos which stayed in Yunnan district in China 7-8 million years ago, that too had actually links come Ursavus.


The large Panda was considered separate native the bears for numerous years.

The Tremarctine bear (also recognized as to run bears) evolved during the middle Miocene as the world came to be drier. The humid woodlands were replaced by warm forests and scrubland. These types became an ext specialised carnivores and also became larger in human body size. They first dispersed right into North America and then into South America as soon as the Panamanian land bridge surfaced 2 million year ago. An essential running bears to be the 600 kg Short-Faced be afflicted with (Arctodus simus) and also the 400 kg vegetarian Florida cave Bear (Tremarctos floridanus). These two types were remarkably successful, surviving up until just 10,000 years ago. The Tremarctine bears challenged increasing competition from big cats and also the so late Pleistocene extinct of the large herbivores. Their extinction also matches the figure of mankind and also arrival of Ursine bears such as the Brown Bear. Today just one Tremarctine types remains the Spectacled bear of south America.


Ursine bears evolved from the small Bear (Ursus minimus), they developed 5 million years ago but underwent great change and radiation throughout the Ice age 2.5 million year ago. Quite than being big and fast, the bears in Eurasia ended up being slower and also predominantly omnivorous. The little Bear spawned the modern bears (Sun Bears, Sloth Bears, American Bears, asian Black Bears, Brown Bears and also Polar Bears). The little Bear most very closely resembled the Asiatic black color Bear (Ursus thibetanus). It spread out right throughout Europe and also Asia becoming isolated in Asia during the Pleistocene.

Brown Bears split off indigenous the small Bear 1.2-2.8 million years ago although over there is some proof they could have separation from the Etruscan be affected by each other or the cave Bear (Ursus spelaecus). The Etruscan Bear caused the Eurasian cave Bears 500,000-100,000 years ago. They were large (400 kg) and similar to your American Florida cave Bear cousins. The cavern Bear had a distinctive domed forehead and weighed 500 kg; that vanished in the so late Pleistocene. Nevertheless of the precise ancestor, black Bears and also Brown bear separated currently as component of a substantial radiation the species, which somewhere had the Sloth Bears and also the sunlight Bears. The Brown and also Black bear spread across Europe and Asia, crossing the Bering land bridge to colonise phibìc America.


Polar Bear

The many recent types to evolve is the Polar Bear, which advanced from the Brown Bear family tree some 200,000 year ago. This specialised polar hunter is solely carnivorous, whilst the Brown Bear preserved a generalist omnivorous diet.

In this discussion, it is feasible to view waves of be afflicted with evolution developing in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Climatic changes and the production of floor bridges resulted in a dispersal and radiation that the types across the major continents. In this story, the Tremarctine supremacy in the americas gave way to a Pleistocene intrusion of Eurasian Bears; that is clear the Africa is not pointed out at all. This shows that whilst bears showed adaptable to many continents something limited their spread out onto this details one.

Whilst I case that there room no bear in Africa there is, in fact, evidence that there has actually been. Atlas bears (Ursus arctos crowtherii) stayed in North Africa and were a sub-species the Brown Bear. Lock covered much of Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian mountains and also forests. They had actually slightly much more orange fur and a shorter face an ext reminiscent of your Miocene relatives. That is believed the Atlas bear was hunted to extinction, very first by the Romans who offered them for sport in their coliseums and also later by other hunters. The critical Atlas be afflicted with was eliminated in the 1870’s.


Fossilised bear remains have been found in two areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, south Africa and Ethiopia. This bones called to one of the ‘running bears’ native the so late Miocene and Pliocene. The species, Agrotherium africanum, had primitive teeth and also was probably generally herbivorous and also a scavenger; the is assumed that the genus became extinct because of competition. This ns think, hold the crucial to why there are no bears in Africa i.e. Competition and the Sahara.

In Summary:Much the the development of the bear wake up in one of two people Asia or north America through the resultant varieties spreading the end in one of two people direction east and also west. In the Americas, the species were able to radiate south when the Panama land leg was established and also today us still have actually bears follow me the Andes. In Asia the large Panda thrived in the bamboo forests, the Asiatic black color Bear across south-east Asia and also heading southwards, the Sloth Bear appeared in India. We understand bears existed follow me the Atlas hills north the the Sahara desert yet none south of it. It is most likely that as is the instance for plenty of species, the desert acted together a considerable barrier to the southerly expansion of the bears. This obstacle stopped the colonisation of Africa by any of the modern species of be afflicted with in the past 1 million years.


The only surviving Tremarctine bear – The Spectacled Bear/Andean be afflicted with (Tremarctos ornatus)

As we now know, there were cavern Bears discovered in Ethiopia and South Africa however they evidently died out without spawning brand-new taxa, this suggests competition coming into play. To check out this we have to look at the evolution of the bespeak Carnivora as a whole. This line contains all mammal carnivores which showed up in north America 42 million years back from Miacids. This order an extremely quickly splits right into two orders, the Caniformia and also the Feliformia. The Feliformia included all the cat families and also were primarily successful in Africa and Asia whilst the Caniformia that included the dogs, arctoids, racoons, weasels, seals and also bears were most successful in north America, radiating into Europe.

Therefore the be affected by each other lineage became a mainly northern hemispheric line the was unable to successfully spread southern through Africa and also those the did, discovered themselves out-competed through the dominant Feliformia – predators choose the big cats. This day where there space bears or dog species there are fewer cat types and angry versa.

The over is no a watertight explanation, however I think draws together the genealogy of the bear together with biogeographical information. With modern taxonomy and the advancement of improved genetic testing, evolutionary concept is coming on in leaps and also bounds, and every year a clearer snapshot is gained. There is still much to be discovered and for that, we require both the paleontological evidence and DNA sequencing.


Bears that the world Benton, M.J. (2015) Vertebrate Palaeontology. Fourth ed. Wiley Blackwell. Oxford.Macdonald, D. (1992) The Velvet Claw. BBC books. London.Prothero, D.R. (2017) The Princeton ar Guide to prehistoric Mammals. Princeton university Press. Oxford.Wilson, D.E & Mittermeier, R.A ed. (2009) Handbook the the Mammals the the World. Vol. 1 Carnivores. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

See more: What Does Dozo Mean In Japanese Corner: Dozo Vs, What Is Dozo In Japanese

About the Author: Mark blacksmith is one amateur ecologist who trained at the university of Aberystwyth. Mark runs a website (link HERE), wherein he publishes his varied research study interests. He has actually been a local representative for the BTO for the past 8 years and also has consulted with Warwickshire ar Council and other local wildlife body on numerous conservation projects. Aside from the camera trapping mark manages a small patch the land and also has been recording wildlife top top the same patch that the flow Avon because that 15 years. Mark blogs on every matters wild. Link to his blog is HERE. Mark can it is in contacted via admin (at)