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190 × 135 × 13 mm
192 pages
100 illustrations, 56 in colour
01 Jun 2004

Bear Robert E. Bieder

Few animals are as closely associated with humans as bears. From the Greek legend of Callisto to Winnie-the-Pooh, bears have throughout history been a rich source of imagery, myth, story and legend.

Bear begins 25 million years ago with ‘dawn bear’, the small dog-sized ancestor of all bears. Tracing the evolution of the bear family, the author discusses extinct types, such as the cave bear and the giant short-faced bear, as well as describing in detail the eight species that exist today. Several of these species are now facing extinction, and the book considers the impact of current human behaviour on bears and their environments.

Bear explores the bear-human relationship and how human perceptions of bears have changed over time. Drawing from cultures around the world, it discusses the various legends and myths, including the ceremonies and taboos that surround hunting, killing and eating bears. It also looks at representations of bears in contemporary culture: as the subjects of stories, songs, cartoons and films; as exhibits in pits, circuses and zoos; and also as toys.

The book concludes by considering the precarious future of the bear, threatened as it is by loss of habitats, disease, pollution, global warming and poaching for the medicinal trade. Bear will appeal to all those interested in the past, present and future of these extraordinary creatures.

‘It is indeed surprising, considering the wealth of legends and traditions to do with bears worldwide, how very few books have been written about them, but in Bear we are given a taste of what must surely be a huge and enthralling subject.’ — Archives of Natural History

‘In Bear, Robert E. Bieder does a fine job of chronicling the evolution of bears, explaining which species survived or did not (and why), and examining what has set the Family Ursidae apart from the others.’ — The Quarterly Review of Biology

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Robert E. Bieder is Research Associate and Adjunct Professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Indiana, USA. He is the author of many books and articles on North American natural history, folklore and ethnology.

1 Ursidae
2 Survivors
3 The Bear of Legend
4 Bears and Humans
5 The Packaged Bear
6 Road to Extinction?
Photo Acknowledgements