Extinct Bears

In modern times, about 8 different species of bear are alive. But bears used to be much more widespread, with researchers discovering over 100 species that used to walk the earth at one point. Humans killed off some of these ursids, such as those living in Ireland, Scotland, and the United Kingdom, while others couldn’t keep up with the changing world around them.

Bears That Went Extinct

BearCharacteristicsReason for Extinction
Atlas Bear (Ursus arctos crowtheri)A sub-species of the Brown Bear. Only modern bear native to AfricaOver-hunting, especially after the invention of firearms, and over-zealous collectors
California Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)A sub-species of the Grizzly Bear native to CaliforniaOver-hunting combined with habitat loss
Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus)A herbivorous, cave-dwelling bear. Native to EurasiaSeveral factors, including a specialized diet and competition with humans
Mexican Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos nelsoni)A sub-species of the Grizzly Bear native to MexicoHunting by humans who saw them as pests
Florida Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos floridanus)A herbivorous bear native to North America during the last ice ageUnable to adapt to a change in diet
Auvergne Bear (Ursus minimus)An ancestor to the Etruscan Bear. Native to EuropeUnclear
Etruscan Bear (Ursus etruscus)An ancestor of the Brown Bear. Native to EurasiaUnable to adapt to climate change after the last ice age
Lesser Short-faced Bear (Arctodus pristinus)A short-faced bear from North AmericaClimate change and competition with other bears
Giant Short-faced Bear (Arctodus simus)A short-faced bear from North AmericaLoss of its specialized diet
Deninger’s Bear (Ursus deningeri)An ancestor of the Cave Bear from EurasiaUnable to adapt to a change in diet
Gran Dolina Bear (Ursus dolinensis)A carnivorous bear from SpainUnclear
Gamssulzen Cave Bear (Ursus ingressus)A large European bear, who may have been herbivorous or omnivorousClimate change or overhunting by humans
Pleistocene Small Cave Bear (Ursus rossicus)A large bear that was believed to be herbivorousSeveral potential reasons, including competition for resources, hunting by humans, and climate change
Agriarctos gaaliA prehistoric panda. Fossils discovered in HungaryClimate change
Agriarctos nikoloviA prehistoric panda. Fossils discovered in BulgariaClimate change
Agriotherium sivalensisAn omnivorous bear. Fossils discovered in Eurasia and AfricaCompetition with other carnivores
Ailurarctos lufengensisA prehistoric panda. Fossils discovered in ChinaClimate change, specifically caused by the Messinian salinity crisis
Arctotherium angustidensOne of the largest bears to ever live, reaching 11 feet in length and weighing over 4000 lbs. Fossils discovered in South AmericaLoss of their natural prey
Aurorarctos tirawaA small North American bear that was most likely an omnivoreOverhunting by humans
Ballusia elmensisA small Eurasian bear that was a cross between a wolverine and a domestic catUnable to effectively hunt faster prey
Cephalogale geoffroyiA ‘dog bear’ whose fossils have been found throughout EurasiaClimate and environmental changes
Indarctos punjabiensisAn omnivorous bear whose fossils have been found throughout Eurasia. Last of its genusInability to compete with other omnivores
Kretzoiarctos beatrixAn ancestor to the Giant Panda, whose fossils have been found in western EuropePotentially climate change caused by the Messinian salinity crisis
Miomaci pannonicumA small relative of Indarctos speciesUnclear
Ailuropoda microtaEarliest known ancestor of the Giant Panda. Fossils discovered in ChinaHabitat loss
Protarctos boeckhiA prehistoric sugar-loving bear. Fossils discovered in Eurasia and AmericaUnclear