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How a giant short-faced bear reached the California Channel Islands

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Two views of the short-faced bear toe recovered Daisy Cave, San Miguel Island, California Channel Islands (University of Oregon #514-6778). The cut bone indicates where samples were taken for DNA, radiocarbon and protein analysis. Credit: Excerpted from Figure 2, from: Mychajliw et al. 2020. Biogeographic problem-solving reveals the Late Pleistocene translocation of a short-faced bear to the California Channel Islands. Scientific Reports, nature.com/articles/s41598-020-71572-z The California Channel Islands are renowned for their archaeological, biological and paleontological significance and richness, containing some of the most important early human sites in North America. This importance is only growing with new excavation, chemical, and biomolecular techniques, expanding our vision of this dynamic ecosystem and its enduring importance to humans and wildlife alike.

Today, a team of researchers from the University of Oklahoma, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the University of Oregon and others report the first occurrence of the extinct giant short-faced bear, Arctodus simus, from the California Channel Islands. This fearsome beast—weighing by some estimates 2,000 lbs. – once roamed diverse environments from Alaska to Mexico, but has never been found in such an isolated island context. While this is not the first strange mammal to be found on the California […]

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