Biggest Bear Ever: Ancient South American Giant Short-Faced Bear Was Largest, Study Suggests

Afraid of bears? You'd probably be a lot more afraid if you were alive around 2 million years ago. Back then, National Geographic reports that there was a bear who towered at least 11 feet tall standing up and weighed up to 3,500 pounds.

A new study conducted on the skeleton of a South American giant short-faced bear has found it to be the biggest bear ever discovered. Paleontologists Blaine Schubert and Leopoldo Soibelzon reexamined the skeleton which had been found in Argentina in 1935. They measured the bear's upper arm bone, which revealed the size of the rest of the bear's body. "It just blew my mind how big it was," Schubert told National Geographic. The study, which appears in the January issue of the Journal of Paleontology, also found that the bear was an old male who had been injured multiple times.

The South American giant short-faced bear has become smaller over time. Schubert suggests the bear adapted with the evolution of meat-eaters.

Although the bears are smaller, bear attacks still occur in present day. Last year, a bear attack near Yellowstone National Park killed a camper and forced others to hide in their cars. In a bizarre story, a woman who climbed into a zoo enclosure was attacked by polar bears. But some people may be a little too afraid. Some trigger-happy, bear-fearing people have preemptively shot bears, and in 2010, Grizzly bear deaths reached near record levels, in part because of the bears being increasingly pushed into inhabited areas due to expanding human development and shortage of food sources possibly resulting from climate change.