The California Channel Islands are once again representing the home to an outstanding archaeological discovery. Thanks to a team of scientists from the University of Oklahoma, the University of Oregon, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and others, we have a pretty good idea for how the extinct giant bear Arctodus simus looked like.
The reconstruction of the terrifying creature has been revealed:
Credit: Dantheman9758 / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
The beast was weighing around 2,000 lbs, and he has been roaming the territories of Alaska and Mexico.
The first case of a potentially native megafaunal carnivore
A little bone measuring only 1 cm in length, excavated in 1996, and found in a stratum dated more than 13,000 years ago was the goldmine for researchers. The bone sample was analyzed for ancient bone proteins at the University of Manchester in the UK, producing chemical fingerprints that matched a reference of a bear from South America that was also the only living relative of the short-faced bear known as Arctodus simus. After two molecular analyses, it was confirmed the allegiance to a giant short-faced bear.
Courtney Hofman, main author of the study and an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, declared:
We were able to integrate interdisciplinary toolkits, including morphology, ancient DNA, collagen fingerprinting, radiocarbon dating and stable isotopes, to develop a robust hypothesis testing framework allowing us to explore the origins of this mysterious bone,
Alexis Mychajliw, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oklahoma, declared:
This little toe helped us lay the groundwork for addressing some big questions in paleontology,
Southern California was packed with large carnivores 17,000 years ago, and it’s possible that the opportunistic use of marine resources helped short-faced bears survive some tough competition. That is, until climates changed, and humans arrived.
The study was published in the journal Nature.