The Mystery Behind the Biggest Bears of All Time

  • Published: 24 April 2019
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    The short-faced bears turned out to be remarkably adaptable, undergoing radical changes to meet the demands of two changing continents. And yet, for reasons we don’t quite understand, their adaptability wasn’t enough to keep them from going extinct.   

    Thanks to Fabrizio De Rossi and Studio 252mya for the Arctodus and Arctotherium illustrations. You can find more of their work here:

    And thanks to Ceri Thomas for the Plionarctos and Arctotherium reconstructions! Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at and

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios:

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Comments • 1 190

  • Brendan O'Neil
    Brendan O'Neil  9 hours back

    What about climbing?

    • مزفر ابرحم
      مزفر ابرحم  9 hours back

      The Biggest Bear ever is Sea Bear from Bikini Bottom

      • Kalli Mae Cooke
        Kalli Mae Cooke  17 hours back

        This channel is the only thing getting me throught the flu rn

        • BLOOD
          BLOOD  2 days back

          Tsss! We all know humans killd them off duhh!!

          • Dennet Oregon
            Dennet Oregon  3 days back

            Asteroid killed off all its prey.

            • EricTheNotSoRed
              EricTheNotSoRed  4 days back

              Regardless its normal diet, I would not want to meet one in a dark ally.

              • Chris H
                Chris H  1 weeks back

                Could the arrival of (also omniverous) humans with hunting weapons not have occupied the same niche (but far more efficiently) as them, therefore causing an abrupt end to them in the fossil record?

                • Fulcrum Indicate
                  Fulcrum Indicate  2 weeks back

                  When you realize 1:33 they are saying the biggest bear of all time is the same size as a large Kodiac or Polar bear alive today not record-breaking just big examples.

                  • Raptorialis11
                    Raptorialis11  2 weeks back

                    I love natural history and glad to have found this channel. And Kallie is a fantastic host!! She's very enthusiastic about this.

                    • Jeff Glenn
                      Jeff Glenn  3 weeks back

                      Apparently you have not heard of a bear it lives up north it can achieve 13 ft tall it's called the polar bear

                      • garrisp
                        garrisp  3 weeks back

                        Saying “full grown person” is assuming someone’s height and is demeaning to those who are vertically challenged 😡🤬👎🏻

                        • Voltaic Fire
                          Voltaic Fire  4 weeks back

                          That short-faced bear looks unnervingly like a spider/bear hybrid to me. 😱

                          • Gonson Jebibeba
                            Gonson Jebibeba  4 weeks back

                            beeeee bopin' babehhhhhh3

                            • jacob Taves
                              jacob Taves  4 weeks back

                              Biotic boi

                              • William Perry
                                William Perry  1 months back

                                I bet Conway Twitty would have like her in those tight fitting jeans.

                                • todd goslin
                                  todd goslin  1 months back

                                  The extinction event I think she's looking for is known as the Goldilocks epoch!

                                  • Ash Peeler
                                    Ash Peeler  1 months back

                                    I’m watching this while I’m in a cabin😖

                                    • liam redmill
                                      liam redmill  1 months back

                                      It's body shape with slender legs, reminds me of a hyena, is it possible that,totally dominating america, some bears, developed pack traits, I can't imagine a bear of any size, taking down a bison, but a small pack, working the rear, could, please tell me what you think of my hypothesis/idea, thanks so much for your exellent educational content, and superb presentation, and oration

                                      • Juan Manuel Saenz Kotyk
                                        Juan Manuel Saenz Kotyk  1 months back

                                        "history of ants" pleasee

                                        • Daggerman105 -
                                          Daggerman105 -  1 months back

                                          Why does everyone instantly blame humans for the extinction of everything?

                                          Yes, we are very dangerous but no 10,000 years ago we didn’t have the real capability to nearly instantly decimate an entire ecosystem, it’s just unfeasible.

                                          • J Chan Tack
                                            J Chan Tack  1 months back

                                            Why did they die out?
                                            Me: We ate them

                                            • Joel Williams
                                              Joel Williams  2 months back

                                              Bear Down!

                                              • Derk L
                                                Derk L  2 months back

                                                Great video! Sexy, informative,

                                                • Terry Robinson
                                                  Terry Robinson  2 months back

                                                  I would like to see a show on ice age. I'd like it to be more on the southern hemisphere not Europe Asia and North America. Since both have ice

                                                  • Roosevelt Brentwood
                                                    Roosevelt Brentwood  2 months back

                                                    couldn’t watch, the narrator is annoyingly perky.

                                                    • doctim111
                                                      doctim111  2 months back

                                                      It is suspected that an archaic, ice-age polar bear is still roaming the Himalayas.....

                                                      • Christopher Beebe
                                                        Christopher Beebe  2 months back

                                                        Bears still to this day fight any predator, polar bears and grizzly bears are the scariest predators to be face two face with on foot, sure tigers lions and such WILL kill you, bears are scarier to me.

                                                        • Christopher Beebe
                                                          Christopher Beebe  2 months back

                                                          Umm a polar bear at the museum in DC was over a ton, 2300 lbs, on hinde legs it can look a elephant in the eye. Polar bears are HUGE and its getting down played.. wonder why. (I believe it has 18 feet tall on 2 legs)

                                                          • Dipstikk
                                                            Dipstikk  2 months back

                                                            Plionarctos just chillin
                                                            early man be like "oh dang a bear" and he all like "whoa dude where at"

                                                            • Rams495
                                                              Rams495  2 months back

                                                              The big bears were probably killed off by the same thing that killed half of the animals at the end of the last ice age, a huge impact. The evidence for it continues to mount but main stream science will not acknowledge it even when a gigantic crater was found in Greenland. It dates to 12kyrs ago which is precisely the time, that those that were called pseudo-scientists had theorized. I suppose we'll have to wait until this crop of scientists, that have staked their careers on the current belief system, die off and new ones that hope to make new discoveries come to the forefront.

                                                            • Nat Wolins
                                                              Nat Wolins  2 months back

                                                              Human are death on two legs. Human appear large mammals disappear.

                                                              • Jorge Martí
                                                                Jorge Martí  2 months back

                                                                Love this

                                                                • ScreenTalker DotOrg
                                                                  ScreenTalker DotOrg  2 months back

                                                                  Atlanteans wiped out the short faced bear with their laser wrist weapons

                                                                  • Jari Tapani Ruusupuu
                                                                    Jari Tapani Ruusupuu  2 months back

                                                                    Maybe short-faced bears had smaller brain capasity than todays bears?

                                                                    • Ya tú sabes Neta que sabe

                                                                      Aunque sea por biogenetica debemos recuperar ejemplares de aquella mega fauna tan fascinante 🌝🌝🌝😇😛

                                                                      • Kairi Suzuki
                                                                        Kairi Suzuki  2 months back

                                                                        Bears🐻 are versatile “Carnivora” beasts that can adapt to several niches (unlike cats or dogs!).

                                                                        I have no idea how North American short-faced bears would have been driven to extinction by the contenpotaries🤔

                                                                        • Merlin LeDuc
                                                                          Merlin LeDuc  2 months back


                                                                          • Fritz
                                                                            Fritz  2 months back

                                                                            "Let's make a series with prehistoric animals in South America"

                                                                            This live in Brazil, Paraguay and Colombia
                                                                            DoN't FoRgEt To MaKe A cItAtIoN oF tHiS aNiMaL iN nOrTh AmErIcA.

                                                                            • Danny Isambard
                                                                              Danny Isambard  2 months back

                                                                              All theses bears freely travelling between the US and South America, we needed that wall even back then.🤪🤪🤪

                                                                              • Whitney V
                                                                                Whitney V  2 months back

                                                                                Gotta connect these extinctions to a comet strike. Way too many megafauna died at the exact same time.

                                                                                • Hearthlete TV
                                                                                  Hearthlete TV  2 months back

                                                                                  I'm officials hooked on your video's - thank you so much!

                                                                                  • Baller4real 20
                                                                                    Baller4real 20  2 months back

                                                                                    Autistick bear

                                                                                    • Gorilla Jones
                                                                                      Gorilla Jones  2 months back

                                                                                      Wait, aren't polar bears almost 4 meters tall?

                                                                                      • Anthony Hewitt
                                                                                        Anthony Hewitt  2 months back

                                                                                        Diff narrator plz. Your nice but cant stand the wining cut to cut voice clips.

                                                                                        • Randy Patterson
                                                                                          Randy Patterson  2 months back

                                                                                          It seems like you forgot to mention the bear it's a member of the grizzly family that lives in Chile that heats a type of groundhog that's it's only food any comments on that

                                                                                          • Vergil Sparda
                                                                                            Vergil Sparda  2 months back

                                                                                            It must be protected

                                                                                            • James Dunn
                                                                                              James Dunn  2 months back

                                                                                              Modern scavengers are not large, not the pure scavengers anyway. I think the giant short faced bear was both a scavenger and a predator, much as T Rex probably was.

                                                                                              • Jourdan Wolf
                                                                                                Jourdan Wolf  3 months back

                                                                                                I’m getting some serious doge vibes 2:34