BEAR, the English name of the various species of plantigrade mammals belonging to the ursus and some neighbor ing genera. The term plantigrade, ap plied to the bears', intimates that they walk on the soles of their feet; not, like the digitigrade animals, on their toes. Though having six incisor teeth in each jaw, like the rest of the carni vora, yet the tubercular crowns of the molar teeth show that their food is partly vegetable. They grub up roots, and, when they can obtain it, greedily devour honey. They hibernate in winter. The best known species is ursus arctos, the brown bear. They are wild in this country, on the continent of Europe, and in Asia. Other species are the Syrian bear (ursus syriacus, which is the bear of Scripture) ; the American black bear (ursus americanits); the grizzly bear of the same continent (vrsus ferox) ; and the Polar bear (ursus or thalassarctos vutritimus), and others.
The earliest representative of the ursidx, or bear family, known at pres ent, does not belong to the typical genus ursus. It is called amphicyon, and is of Miocene age.
Of Post-pliocene bears, one, ursus pris ms, seems the same as ursus ferox (the grizzly bear). Several bears, ursus
spelxus, arctos, and others, have been found in caves, in England and elsewhere. Of these, ursus spelxus, from the Greek spektios=a grotto, cave, cavern, or pit, is the one called especially the cave bear. It is a giant species, occurring in the later rather than the earlier Post pliocene beds.
In Stock Exchange parlance, a bear is one who contracts to sell on a specified day certain stock not belonging to him, at the market price then prevailing, on receiving imaginary payment for them at the rate which obtains when the promise was made. It now becomes his interest that the stock on which he has speculated should fall in price. The purchaser, called a "bull," sees it to his advantage to make the stock rise. The origin of the term is uncertain.
In astronomy, the word is applied to one or other of two constellations, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, called respec tively the Great Bear and the Little Bear. When the word Bear stands alone, it signifies Ursa Major.