Atlas Bears

Atlas bears, also known as the African bear (Ursus arctos crowtheri), is an extinct species of bear that was native to Africa.


The bear gets its name because it mainly lived in the Atlas Mountains and areas surrounding Morroco, Libya, and Algeria. However, excavators have found fossils of the bear in caves throughout North Africa. The Atlas bear lived in mountains and forested terrain.


Atlas bears had brownish-black fur and a black muzzle. On the chest and stomach area, the fur was an orange-red color. The length of its fur was 4-5 inches long.

Depictions of these bears show that it was stouter and thicker than American black bears, and they had shorter claws and muzzles. Atlas bears were described as being about 9 feet long and weighed up to 1000 pounds.


Atlas bears ate mostly roots, nuts, and acorns, but given the fact that most modern bears are omnivorous, we can assume that they were omnivores.


Atlas bears became extinct after the Roman Empire invaded North Africa. The Romans hunted the bears for sport, and they killed most of them. Atlas Bears also served as executioners. Romans used these bears in the arenas to fight against gladiators, lions, tigers, and other animals.

Interesting Facts About Atlas Bears

  • The Atlas Bear was classified as subspecies Ursus arctos crowtheri by Swiss naturalist Heinrich Rudolf Schinz in 1844.
  • Atlas bears are the only species of bears that were endemic to Africa.
  • The Atlas Bear went extinct in the 1870s.

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