How Big Was This Short-Faced Bear?

On 4 feet, he was 5½ to 6 feet at the shoulders.

With the front legs straight, the skeleton is 66 inches to the top of the shoulder blades (the big shield-shaped shoulder bones). If short-faced bears had a hump of muscle on the shoulders, he could have been as much as 6 feet at the shoulders.

On 2 legs, he stood 11 to 12 feet tall.

From the crown to the hip joint and down to the heel is 134 inches. That’s 11 feet, 2 inches standing up looking at you or peering down through a basketball hoop. He could look up and bite a branch 12 feet high.

He could reach up 14½ to 15 feet.

He could reach 2 ½ to 3 feet higher with a paw than he could reach with his mouth. This skeleton measures 72 inches from the center of the shoulder blade to the tips of the toes (adding 2 inches for the missing claws). Subtracting 42 inches from the center of the shoulder blade to the tip of the nose, this bear could reach 30 inches above his up-stretched nose—to at least 14½ feet. If he rotated his shoulder upward a few inches, he could reach even higher. Ice Age campers had to hang their food higher than campers do today.

He weighed about a ton.

Archeologists estimate most giant short-faced bears, including females, to weigh 1600 to 1900 pounds. Some estimates exceed a ton. This large male specimen probably weighed close to a ton, which is more than twice what the Bear Center’s resident adult male Ted weighs.

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