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The Atlas Bear (Ursus arctos crowtheri) was an extinct subspecies of brown bear native to north Africa. It inhabited the Atlas Mountains and neighboring areas from Morocco to Libya. Despite its exitinction in the 1870s, sightings of the Atlas Bear have remained.


The Atlas Bear was Africa's only native species of bear that survived into modern times. The bear was brown-black in color with reddish-orange underparts. It was shorter than the American Black Bear but more robust and stocky in build. Its claws and muzzle were short in length also. Its fur was 4-5 inches long and was thought to be 9 feet long in length and weighed 450 kg. It fed on roots, acorns and nuts but was also thought to feed on small mammals and carrion.[1][2]


As the Roman Empire expanded into North Africa, thousands of Atlas Bears were hunted for sport. The last recorded bear was killed by hunters in 1870 in the Tetouan Mountains of northern Morocco. [1][2]


Sightings of bear-like animals are sometimes reported in the regions where the Atlas Bear lived. However, no phyiscal evidence has been found. Some speculate that the sightings are of the Nandi Bear.[3]

In the 1950s, Atlas Bears were allegedly sighted in Kabylie, Algeria, by local women picking olives.[4] In March 2016, an Atlas Bear was allegedly filmed in the forest of Tissemsilt, Algeria. This footage was later revealed to be a striped hyena caught in a trap.[5]