The giant short-faced bear is the largest mammalian land carnivore ever to live in North America, reaching heights of over 11 feet when standing upright. They lived from 1.6 million to 11,000 years ago alongside giant ground sloths, mammoths and, near the end of the Ice Age, the first Native Americans to enter Iowa.
“My first reaction was what the heck is a short-faced bear?” says Walker. “I had never heard of it and had a hard time imagining that such a huge bear existed in this area. What I find most impressive about this bear species is its size, ferocity, and the fact that it co-existed with humans for a time.”
Scaled image of giant short-faced bear and early man.
Image courtesy of http://library.sandiegozoo.org
“It's not a surprise that one was found here,” Roberts explains, “because the distribution of previous finds is quite broad across North America and surrounds Iowa. But it is a confirmation that they were here. That also means that this specimen may be important in understanding the biology of short-faced bears, because it can help us determine what traits are consistent across the species' wide range.“
Image courtesy of Barton, Miles, et al. Prehistoric
America A Journey Through The Ice Age And
Beyond. BBC Worldwide Ltd, London. 2002