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Last of the Maya Bears? by HodariNundu Last of the Maya Bears? by HodariNundu
Uno de los últimos osos de cara corta de la selva maya se aleja del olor de la civilización.
Inspirado por el descubrimiento reciente de cráneos de oso de cara corta (Arctotherium o quizá Arctodus) de unos 11.000 años de antiguedad en un cenote de Yucatán.
La noticia me hizo imaginar que quizá los últimos osos gigantes de cara corta sobrevivieron en lo más remoto de la selva, quizá lo suficiente para ver surgir las primeras civilizaciones mesoamericanas. Es solo un pensamiento romántico. Imaginen lo que un maya habria sentido de haberse topado en lo mas profundo de la selva con el ultimo de estos osos monstruosos :D

One of the last short faced bears of the Mayan Jungle about to flee from the smell of civilization.
Inspired by the recent discovery of four 11.000 year old skulls of short faced bears (Arctotherium or possibly Arctodus) in a Yucatan cenote.
The news made me imagine, what if the very last giant bears survived in the deepest, darkest jungle, maybe enough to see the rise of the first Mesoamerican civilizations? It's just a romantic thought, but imagine what a Maya would've thought/felt if he stumbled upon the last of these monstrous bears :D
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:iconacepredator:
acepredator Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014
Same happened to Megalania. and Smilodon. And Harpagornis.
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
11,000 years ago is a mere thousand years before the 10,000 year extinction mark for all the mass disappearance of the Pleistocene megafauna of the Americas ,Mesoamerican civilization began from what I know around 7,000 BC ,a thousand years after the extinction of these bears,but still that isn`t too far of a stretch that some could have survived.Did you ever hear of some Maya artifacts that could depict a short faced bear,or a smilodon,ground sloth or some other prehistoric beast.

I have also heard that even today there are reports of a cryptid living in the Amazon jungle called the Mapunguari witch according to the native tribes description looked very much in size and appearance to the ground sloth Mylodon.
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:iconhodarinundu:
HodariNundu Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014   General Artist
Yes, the mapinguari inspired part of the second book I wrote!

About the Maya, I have a book in which there's a picture of a man wearing an animal's pelt. It has traditionally been considered as a coyote pelt by archaeologists for reasons I cannot understand; it has a short round muzzle, round ears, and a short stubby tail. It is definitely not canine or feline and looks like an obvious bear to me... but of course, since there's no hard evidence of bears living at that time in southern Mexico, no one has even considered the possibility...
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
What particular part of southern Mexico was that picture taken,in any way it could have easily been a black bear or Mexican grizzly that has wandered farter south than its usual range,i have once seen a report of a polar bear that has for some reason wandered straight into the heart of Alaska,when usually they don't stray far from the coast.
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:iconhodarinundu:
HodariNundu Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014   General Artist
I don´t remember but it was probably from Yucatan (where, curiously, the Arctotherium fossils were found in a sacred well).

Yes, it could've been a black bear, but there's also the possibility that it was a spectacled bear; apparently there was a time when they lived in Central America. It didn´t look much like a grizzly but everything's possible (and the artist was obviously focusing on the man, not the animal pelt).
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner Edited Aug 6, 2014
One thing I should have mentioned but forgot is that a Maya in southern Mexico from that far back in time shouldn't even have accesses to a coyote pelt since until recent history coyotes only lived in parries and brush lands of the Great Plains since everywhere else they were kept at bay by wolves and cougars,and its not until 2 or so centuries back ,when the Europeans started exterminating the 2 apex predators, that coyotes started colonizing the rest of the continent including southern Mexico.

Bears both black and grizzly were on the other hand present in the cooler climate of northern and central Mexico at the time,so pelt of them could have bee traded from northern tribe or brought along when tribes migrated towards the south.

So obviously who ever wrote of the pelt in drawing as coyote was clearly a better archeologist than zoologist.
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:iconhodarinundu:
HodariNundu Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014   General Artist
It happened a lot, really. There's plenty of animal statues labeled "coyotes" by archaeologists, when they actually resemble wolves a lot more (wide muzzle, short ears, longer fur etc). It makes sense, too, since obviously these ancient peoples would probably pay more attention to the larger, more dangerous wolf and depict it frequently. The Aztec even had it as an emblem of war and it was one of the three animals that guarded their capital city's "gates". Thing is, since wolves have been practically extinct in Mexico since the 50s, archaeologists simply don´t think of them as Mexican fauna anymore...
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner Edited Aug 6, 2014
Indeed its saddening to see how a lot of large animals were far more widespread in the past,but humans exterminated them and then even actively forget that these animals were once native to their home land.No one seems to remember that wolves and bears once lived on the Mediterranean coast of Africa along with lions that also once ranged as far north as the Balkan peninsula at the time of Ancient Greece for example.

Yes people are always more interested in the big animals,granted,without humanizing them, coyotes are cowards,to be fair their smaller size and cowering nature does benefit them in surivival,and they tend to better adapt to change than wolves,but then again wolves in a regular humans eyes are more respectable with their greater strength,bravery and effectiveness in hunting and cooperating to hunt down pretty much anything from mice to moose,in other words all animals have their unique qualities to be respected, except for mosquitos really their only purpose in the world is to annoy others and spread malaria, but the point being animals that get demonized in human culture such hyenas,rats,snakes,ect. deserve more respect.

Coyotes do seem to mentioned quite a bit in the mythos and culture of native americans,being portrayed as either a cunning trickster or a cowardly, honor less scavenger depending on with tribe, although there are some animals that seemed to be tabooed like you suggested with the saber tooths in ice age cave paintings,for one thing did the native Americans of North Ameica even take notice of the cougar,wolves and bears are all over their legends,culture and totem poles,but I never saw any cougars.
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:iconhodarinundu:
HodariNundu Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014   General Artist
Depends on where you are; in the southern US many tribes had the cougar as the most important animal in their mythology. Same with others up north- the Erie indians supossedly get their name from mountain lions (they've even called cat-people), and then there's the water-panther.

As for ancient Mexican people, the cougar was indeed known and respected- the Maya for example had the "red tiger" (cougar) as an emblem of warriors.
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:iconbrendanboa:
brendanboa Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013
Really like how you depicted them as sun bear-Asiatic black bear-ish. Most depict Arctodus or Arctotherium as something like a spectacled bear.
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