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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Ursus arctos
Original name is Ursus arctos Linnaeus, 1758.

Common Name:
Brown Bear


Big Muddy Creek, Montana   April 29, 1805

these bears . . . Reather intimedates us

Nothing penetrated the mens' psyches like the grizzly bear.  The ferocity and toughness of the bruin was related to Lewis and Clark by Indians with first-hand knowledge.  But Lewis thought the guns they carried were so superior to the Indian's bow and arrow that these bears could easily be brought down.  And fine weapons they were.  Only the plains grizzly bear was a large carnivorous mammal without an equal on land in the western U.S., When fired upon, these bears almost always came straight at their attackers with intent to kill.  Their toughness and endurance after being shot put the men in grave danger.  The treeless plains left no cover to hide behind or climb into once a bear was shot.  The men were open to attack and given the bears nature, they had a number of close encounters.

Keen observers, Lewis and Clark took notice of the variation in body size, behavior, and coat colors associated with these bears.  They were not sure, in fact, if there was more than one species of large bear.  After collecting a number of specimens, and confering with Indians, they finally determined there was just one species of large bear.  Remarkably, this species is the same one that inhabits Eurasia!

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

[This is the first account of grizzly bear.  Clark was a little below Hear River (contemporary naming) in North Dakota, just below Bismarck and ...  more>>

Lesson Plans
PDF    Grizzly Survival
By Gail McEachron
References Linné, Carl von, Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, ed. 10, 2 vols, Holmiae: impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii, 1758

see following caption

See following caption
brown bear

See following caption
brown bear

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