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Nevertheless the bears still possess formidable destructive weapons; their jaws are actuated by powerful muscles, and are both armed in front with six incisors and two large pointed conical teeth, or laniaries. Their claws, although not indeed so sharp as in the tiger, are yet sufficiently capable, from the great power of the limbs, of inflicting severe lacerations: and the irresistible gripe of these animals,-their favourite and almost peculiar method of attack,- is proverbial. The courage of the bear corresponds with his corporeal powers; and although he avoids a rencontre with man, and exercises considerable caution under circumstances not familiar to him, and from which danger might be apprehended, yet when compelled to fight, he becomes a formidable opponent, bringing his forces into the field with good-will and energy, and losing none of his natural advantages through fear.
Possessing an internal organization capable of digesting either animal or vegetable food, and locomotive powers adapted to a vast variety of circumstances, it may be readily supposed that the animals of the genus Ursus are widely distributed over the face of the globe. Indeed it will be difficult to point out any other group in the class Mammalia, inferior to man, so truly cosmopolite. Accordingly species of the bear, differing but little from each other in general form, are met with from the equator to the pole : and, notwithstanding the organized products which characterize these latitudes are of a nature so widely different, the bear contrives in both climates to satisfy his voracious appetite and grow fat.
In the arctic regions, where the vegetable kingdom is feebly represented by lichens and mosses, but where, on the contrary, the ocean teems with myriads of small mollusca, and at the same time exhibits animal life under its bulkiest forms,-here the polar bear is found laying wait for and combating the walrus and the seal; pursuing and overtaking in its own element the swift salmon; employing stratagem to surprise the smaller quadrupeds and birds which in summer-time visit the higher latitudes; less delicate also in his appetites than the more strictly carnivorous quadrupeds, this species does not disdain to feast on the stranded carcase of the whale; and being of a slothful disposition, he prefers this more easy
and abundant sustenance to that which demands from him more active predatory exertions.
In the tropical regions, on the contrary, where vegetation is exhibited under the most luxuriant forms and in the greatest profusion, the bears live almost exclusively on vegetable matter; and it is interesting to observe that these species are the smallest of the genus, and are consequently best fitted
for climbing; whilst the bears inhabiting the wilds of Siberia, the Rocky Mountains of North America, and the arctic icebergs, attain that superior size and strength which enable them to execute the acts of destruction necessary for their own support and existence.
Besides differences in size and colour, there are few characteristics by which the species can be distinguished from each other; and these marks of distinction are by no means prominent or easily perceived. Linnæus, who had never had an opportunity of examining the polar bear, doubted even its specific difference from the brown bear, which consequently was the only one admitted into his catalogueof species. It is true he has characterized in his last edition of the Systema Nature four species of Ursus; but then he associated in the same genus with the common bear, the badger, the racoon, and the glutton, all of which, possessing fewer teeth and longer tails, have been separated from the genus Ursus in the modern systems of zoology. In the same year that Storr effected this dismemberment, Pallas added two species to the restricted group, and satisfactorily pointed out the characters which distinguish the polar and the American black bear from the European species.
Soon afterwards a new era arose in natural history, when the knowledge of living species was found essential to the elucidation of those numerous extinct forms of which the fossil remains now alone exist; and it may be readily conceived what rapid strides the natural history of living animals has made, since to its own intrinsic attractions has been added the stimulus of a new and deeply interesting inquiry. Thus the immortal Cuvier observes, “From the commencement of my researches on the cave-bones, I perceived the necessity of determining the characters, as well external as osteological, of the living species of bears; and I made efforts to obtain the means. We possessed in our Museum but one skeleton of a bear, of an undetermined species. I was then obliged for many years to examine all the bears that I could procure, and to have their skeletons prepared. Our menagerie has in this respect been to me of the greatest utility; and on this, as on many other occasions, the scientific importance of such an establishment has been demonstrated.” His own zeal and industry were met with corresponding ardour by his pupils abroad, and by scientific men of all nations ; and the catalogue of species has accordingly been rapidly extended. They may be thus enumerated :
Bears of Europe. 1. The Common or Brown Bear; Ursus Arctos, Linn. 2. The Pyrenean Bear, or Bear of the Asturias; Ursus
pyrenæus, F. Cuv.) 3. The Norwegian Bear ; Ursus norvegicus, F. Cuv.?
Bears of Asia. 4. The Siberian Bear; Ursus collaris, F. Cuv. ? 5. The Labiated Bear; Ursus labiatus, Blainville. 6. The Malayan Bear; Ursus malayanus, Raffles. 7. The Thibetan Bear; Ursus thibetanus, Cuv. 8. The Bornean Bear; Ursus eurispylus, Horsfield. 9. The Isabelline Bear ; Ursus isabellinus, Horsfield. 10. The Syrian Bear* ; Ursus syriacus, Hemprich.
Bears of Africa. 11. The Abyssinian Bear; Ursus habessinicus, Hemprich.?
Bears of America. 12. The Spectacled Bear; Ursus ornatus, F. Cuv. 13. The Grisly Bear; Ursus ferox, Lewis and Clarke. 14. The Black Bear; Ursus americanus, Pallas. 15. The Polar Bear; Ursus maritimus, Pallas.
Those of the above species which are denoted by a mark of interrogation require additional investigation and further opportunities of comparison, before they can be admitted as species unquestionably distinct. Numbers 2, 3, and 4, may ultimately be found to be varieties only of the common European Brown Bear.
Numbers 5 to 9 have been grouped together under the subgeneric titles Prochilus and Helarcios, or Sun-bears, having some characteristics in common, in which they differ from the rest of the genus. The species 11 has only been seen in its wild state, and has not yet been scientifically described : it is inserted here chiefly on account of its geographical position, being the only species of bear recorded with any degree of authenticity as inhabiting the continent of Africa.
As there is no genus of carnivorous quadrupeds in which the species present so few deviations from the common type, so are there none in which the differences of size are
This, in all probability, was the species of bear which, as an instrument of Divinc displeasure, tore the children that on Mount Bethel scoffed at the Prophet Elisha : see 2nd Kings, ii. 23, 24.
so slight. The Zoological Gardens at present contain the largest and perhaps the smallest species of Bear; viz. the Grisly Bear, and the Malayan Bear; in this menagerie may also be seen and compared together the species 1, 5, 12, 13, 14, and 15, of the above catalogue ; besides a brown or chestnut variety of the Ursus americanus, called the Cinnamon Bear. In all these species it may be observed that the body is heavy and ungainly, the limbs short and strong, each terminated by five toes, and armed with long curved unretractile claws; their ears are short, and hairy both within and without ; their body is in most of the species covered with long shaggy hair, by which the tail is almost concealed. The habits of the different species differ almost as little as their forms, and were consequently nearly as well known 2500 years ago, when studied in the common European species, as at the present day.
Thus Aristotle observes, “But the bear is omnivorous; for it eats the fruits of trees, which, through the pliability of its body, it climbs. It also eats leguminous fruits. Destroying likewise the hives of bees, it eats their honey, and feeds on crabs and ants, and is carnivorous; for on account of its strength this animal not only attacks stags, but also wildboars, if it can invade them latently. It likewise attacks bulls : for attacking the bull in front, he falls on his back, and while the bull endeavours to strike him (as he lies in this supine position), the bear throws his arms round the horns of the bull, bites his shoulder, and lays him prostrate. For a short time, likewise, the bear walks erect on two feet, and eats every kind of flesh, previously masticating it.”-Book viii. chap. 5 : and again in chap. 17,—“Among viviparous quadrupeds, also, porcupines and bears hide themselves. That savage bears, therefore, hide themselves is evident ; but it is dubious whether it is from cold, or some other cause : for both the males and females become about this time very fat, so as to be unwieldly. The female also brings forth at this season, and conceals herself till the period arrives of leading forth the young bears from her retreat : but she does this in the spring, and in the third month after the winter solstice. The bear likewise is concealed for about forty days at least; and it is said, that for fourteen of these days it does not move at all, but in most of the days after these it is concealed indeed, yet is in a vigilant state, and in motion. A pregnant bear, however, has either never been caught by any one or by very few. It is evident, also, that the bear during the time of its concealment does not eat anything ; for it does not come forth from its retreat ; but
THE POLAR BEAR,
70 when it is caught, both its stomach and intestines are found to be empty.”—History of Animals (Taylor's Translation). Modern observers have added little of importance to the preceding brief summary of the habits of the bear. The same uncertainty still prevails as to the duration, or even the fact, of its torpidity. "Nay, almost the very words of the Greek philosopher respecting the pregnant European bear have been applied to the black bear of America; and with every appearance of being an original observation. “The bears are very common in this province (North Carolina), though not quite so large as in more northerly climates, such as Greenland and Russia. Their flesh is good and nourishing, not inferior to the best pork in taste, and is betwixt beef and pork. The young cubs are amost delicious dish, as mostof the planters testify..... These beasts feed
all manner of wild fruits, and are great devourers of every sort of fish, especially herrings, which they catch at the brook's side in the months of March and April. The flesh of those bears that feed upon them, is not good at that season, and eats filthily; neither are they good when they feed upon green berries. They are great devourers of swine that they take in the woods, especially when they are hungry and can get no other food, which is the only flesh meat they are fond of. They sometimes get into the Indian corn-fields or maize, where they generally spoil ten times more than they eat; they are so fond of the potatoes of this country, that they seldom fail to destroy and root out all clean, whenever they chance to come where they are..... Notwithstanding they seem to be such a clumsy creature, yet they will nimbly climb trees when pursued by hunters and dogs, where they generally remain till shot; and it is strange to see with what agility they will go up and down the trees, and in coming down they always run tail foremost. They are likewise very dexterous and expert in fishing, catching vast quantities of several sorts of fish as they run up the narrow creeks and shallow waters to spawn. There
you shall see these beasts sit and take up fish as fast as it is possible for them to dip their paws into the water. There is one thing very strange and remarkable of this creature, which is, that no man,
either Christian or Indian, ever killed a she-bear with young. It is most certain that they hide themselves in the most secret places, otherwise the Indians, who constantly hunt in the woods and kill thousands of he-ones, would at some time or other have found them."-Bricknell's Natural History of North Carolina,
The obscurity which so long prevailed respecting the gesta