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Evolution and Taxonomy of the Black Bear

What is the scientific name of the American black bear?
The scientific name of the American black bear is Ursus americanus.

Are bears related to pigs?
While the terms boar and sow are used in both species to refer to males and females respectively, bears and pigs are not closely related; at least no more so than seals are related to tigers or hyenas are related to weasels. All are members of the Order Carnivora, as bears are. The fossil record indicates that bears evolved from "dog-like" animals, thus the Family most closely related to Ursidae would be Canidae (the dogs). The bears' family tree looks like this:

Kingdom    —    Animalia

Phylum     —     

Class         —     Mammalia

Order         —     Carnivora

Family      —      Ursidae

Genus       —     Ursus

Species     —     americanus


Of the eight bear species alive today, which are most closely related to the American black bear?
The Family Ursidae is divided into several sub-family groups. The giant panda and the spectacled bear each belong to its own distinct sub-family, so they are the least closely related to the American black bear. The six remaining bears all belong to the Sub-Family Ursinae. Within the sub-family Ursinae, the sloth bear and the sun bear have their own distinct genera (or genus) so they too are slightly removed from the American black bear, though not as far removed as the panda and spectacled bears. The remaining four bears all belong to the genera (or genus) Ursus. So the brown bear, Asiatic black bear, and polar bear are all closely related to the American black bear. This diagram will illustrate the relationship of the various bear species:


Is the koala a bear?
The koala is actually a marsupial, an animal that carries its young in a pouch until they are fully developed. Early settlers in Australia mistakenly called it a bear due to its appearance.

Population & Distribution

Habitat & Home Range





Black Bear Facts

Frequently Asked Questions