A bear is a carnivorous mammal of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although only eight species of bears are extant, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere.
Bears are found on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Common characteristics of modern bears include large bodies with stocky legs, long snouts, shaggy hair and plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws (in most species). While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous, feeding on seals and whales, the giant panda feeds almost exclusively on bamboo. The remaining six species are omnivorous with diverse diets. With the exception of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals.
They are generally diurnal but may be active at night (nocturnal) or twilight (crepuscular). Bears have an excellent sense of smell which helps them locate food; their vision is poor and they have a good sense of hearing. They use sounds, such as roars and moans to communicate between each other when searching for food.
Last modified: October 1, 2022