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A giant skull discovered on a beach in northernmost Alaska may belong to a subspecies of polar bear that’s never before been reported by scientists.
But the elusive bear may have long been familiar to indigenous people in the Arctic.
Jensen reported her team’s findings at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska.
Current scientific literature prefers the term European early modern humans (EEMH), to the term Cro-Magnon, which has no formal taxonomic status, as it refers neither to a species or subspecies nor to an archaeological phase or culture. The body was generally heavy and solid with a strong musculature. The brain capacity was about 1,600 cc (98 cu in), larger than the average for modern humans.
The back of the skull is longer and comparatively narrow, for example, she said, with features that are noticeably different from those of modern polar bears.
“The front part of the skull, from roughly the eyes forward, is like that of typical polar bears,” Jensen said.
Raphaela Stimmelmayr, compared the skull of The Old One to more than 300 other polar bear skulls in the collection of University of Alaska Museum of the North.
She found several others with a similar shape and features, so it seems likely that The Old One is not entirely unique.
Today, the term Cro-Magnon falls outside the usual naming conventions for early humans, though it remains an important term within the archaeological community as an identifier for the commensurate fossil remains in Europe and adjacent areas.
“It’s possible it’s a subspecies,” Jensen said, “or perhaps it’s more like [with] domestic dogs, where a borzoi and pug are considered members of the same species, [and] not [a] subspecies, even though their skulls are far more different than this is from a standard polar bear skull.” When asked if other polar bears the size of the Old One may still be wandering the Arctic, Jensen said, “Certainly.” This may not come as news to many of the indigenous peoples in the region, she added.
Ethnographers have recorded accounts of outsized polar bears from many Inuit groups, Jensen said.
“The back part of the skull is noticeably longer than other bear skulls to which we were able to compare it.
“One of those skulls was from quite a large bear, and the front part of the two skulls were not that different in length, but the back parts were strikingly different.” One of Jensen’s colleagues, research biologist and wildlife veterinarian Dr.
But the giant bear may have descendants living today that have inspired native accounts of enormous, 12-foot long bears, sometimes referred to as “king bears” or “weasel bears,” said Dr. “We don’t know the exact size [of the whole animal], but we do know it was a huge bear,” Jensen said in an interview.