Please note, this is preliminary sketch for my next 'Battle Beyond Epochs' piece that features some of the most colossal bears and a beardog in history.
This is a study for the morphology and composition. The finished piece will be clearer and a lot more fully rendered.
The familes Ursidae and Amphicyonidae have constantly produced some of the largest and most powerful animals in the entire order Carnivora and I choose these species especially for their outstanding bodily dimensions even among large bruins, each outweighing extant polar and kodiak bears in the average body mass.
Top : from left to right
Bottom : from left to right
Ursus spelaeus / Cave bear
(The late Pleistocene Europe)
BM=c.500 kgs (Christiansen, 1999)
Pros: The most robustly built bears of all time, even surpassing large Kodiak brown bears in this respect. Perhaps be the most powerful and the toughest bear ever.
Cons: The smallest in this lineup and the least carnivorous / predatory.
Bison latifrons / Long horned bison
(The late Pleistocene North America)
Arctodus simus / North American Giant Short faced bear
(The late Pleistocene North America)
BM=c.750 kgs (Christiansen, 1999)
Pros: Outstanding body dimensions, significant reach advantage and strong bite force.
Cons: Not particularily well suited to grappling nor agility, somewhat awkwardly(for lack of a better word) tall and long limbed.
Agriotherium africanum / African Short faced bear
(The Mio-Pliocene Africa)
BM=c.540 kgs (Sorkin, 2006)
Pros: Very large yet the limbs not too elongated, similar to ursine bears than to tremarctine short faced bears in this respect. Believed to have been the most predatory among bears. The strongest bite force in this lineup.
Cons: One of the smallest competitors.
Arctotherium angustidens / South American Giant Short faced bear
(The middle Pleistocene South America)
(*Soibelzon's BM figure(2009) for A. angustidens appears not only somewhat too excessive judging from the size comparison between A. angustidens and the largest Arctodus specimens from Yukon / Nebraska (the specimen 'UVP015', estimated at weighing mean.957 kgs was the largest analysed by Figueirido et.al., 2010), but also the BM of over 1.5 tons would be simply too much for other bears to compete against, so I set the figure for A. angustidens at c.1000 kgs on this occasion. This might be unduly small for the species or might not be, but still larger than any other competitors.)
Pros: Outstanding body dimensions, significant reach advantage and strong bite force. Even larger than A. simus.
Cons: Not particularily well suited to grappling nor agility, somewhat awkwardly tall and long limbed.
Amphicyon ingens / North American Giant Beardog
(The middle Miocene North America)
BM=c.547 kgs (Figueirido et.al., 2011)
Pros: Significantly more carnivorous and predatory than others. Very large yet has agility and leaping advantages. Very versatile predator.
Cons: Perhaps lesser in endurance and less stable than in true bears. Built somewhat similarly to big cats but no killing bite technique.
●Some random updates regarding ancient bear and beardog
[Taxonomic positioning of Beardogs]
Although the family Amphicyonidae('beardogs') has long been considered to have been most closely related to bears based on a number of morphological similarities between the two groups, the recent taxonomic study(Tomiya et.al., 2016) proposes the placement of Amphicyonidae as an early diverging group of caniforms, not particularly closely related to either bears nor dogs(thus, the description of them being closer to dogs on wikipedia article is erroneous). The authors however, still consider the shared presences of deep basioccipital embayment and postscapular fossa among Amphicyonids and Ursids are not found on other carnivorans and merit further disccusion on their closer affinity.
[Short faced bears as omnivorous giants]
Several recent morphological and mechanical researches(Sorkin, 2006, Figueirido et. al., 2009, Figueirido et. al., 2011) agree upon the assumption that tremarctine giant short faced bears were actually omnivorous rather than hyper canivorous as previously assumed but their diet included certain amount of animal material which was obtained mainly by scavenging. This theory seems to be in accord with a lack of adaptations in giant short faced bears to both pursuing or ambushing predation and their peculiar morphological traits: The relatively short and broad, somewhat hyena like rostrum(actually, Figueirido et. al., 2011 reveals that the snout of A. simus was in fact, not particularly short) and the high bite force may have been adaptations for carrion consumption, including bones. The elongated limbs and the huge body size were perhaps the result of adaptations for covering large home range and facilitating kleptoparasitism of carcasses, respectively.
Giant short faced bears probably did occasional big game hunting as well but they may be best interpreted as huge, formidable omnivores whose diet included varying amonts of meat according to food availability(Figueirido et. al., 2011). In a sense, I guess their mode of life should have been similar to that of some populations of North American brown bears but the emphasis may be put greatly more on kleptoparasitism in giant short faced bears. There were significantly greater amount of mega fauna carcasses available in the Pleistocene Americas. This was especially the case where saber toothed cats co-existed, because these specialised hyper carnivores could only consume softer tissues and as a result, relatively large amount of flesh and bone nutrients were left available.
Lastly, I can't be sure if the omnivory theory applies to another 'giant short faced bear', Agriotherium africanum because, unlike Sorkin(2006) who dealt with genera Agriotherium and Arctodus as the same ecomorpho-type as 'short faced bears'(as far as I know, they were only distantly related phylogenetically, but it may also have been the case that Agriotherium was ancestral to tremarctine short faced bears) and concluded omnivorous diet for both, the study by Wroe et. al.(2011) shows a little possibility of Agriotherium africanum being omnivorous, judging from analysis on its craniodental variables.
All of them re awesome illustrations.
I'm not sure which one is my favorite as it's hard to choose. All of them look amazing.
Keep up the good work!
These are all drawn on a one paper, A2 size.
I'll replace some of them with different bears in the finished version, so as to make the macth ups even harder to predict the outcomes!
There is a giant specimen from Canada that is said to rival Arctotherium in size.
Yes the size advantage tremarctine short faced bears were supposed to have over other bears might be too decisive but I believe some larger species of the cave bear, although still a good deal smaller, could've put up a heck of fight even against these behemoths. Cave bears in general were extremely powerfully built animals, all the more so regarding the largest species I presume.
I'm thinking of replacing some of them with different bears in the finished version, in order to make the match ups even more interesting!
el Arctotherium angustidens es mi favorito, es el oso emperador y todos los demas es mejor que le muestren obediencia o seran invitados a ser el plato fuerte del banquete
I would give this to Arctotheriim, simply due to its immense size, tho Agriotherium is my favorite.
Also, how good could Agriotherium grapple, and what adaptions need a bear for grappling?
All bears basically are great at grasping movement, so some of them being not well suited to grappling is only in relative terms. Both Arctodus simus and also Agriotherium africanum for instance, appear to have been somewhat inferior not only to brown bears but also to big cats in crucial charcters to grasping prey, more specifically flexing and supinating / pronating functions of the forearm, wrist and digits. At least so according to Sorkin(2006).
But yeah A. angustidens, with that immense size and all, must be the people's favorite. (it may sound crazy but my pick could be the cavy, at least it could be a dark horse)
Interesting! Do you mean 'subspecies' of U. spelaeus, or were there several distinctive species of the cave bear existed, much like P. shawi, P. spelaea and P. atrox among the cave lion lineage?
The Case study of the Totes-Gebirge region is covered by these following journals by me. Just search for the subtitle "coexistence" in the first one, and look for the 2004 case study at the bottom of the second one:
Also, if anything, the beardog might have the endurance advantage. Bears are superb sprinters, but I'm not sure how good at endurance Arctodus was.
Good choices, but why you prefer Arctodus over Arctotherium?