Member of The Crypto Crew:

Please Also Visit our Sister Blog, Frontiers of Anthropology:

And the new group for trying out fictional projects (Includes Cryptofiction Projects):

And Kyle Germann's Blog

And Jay's Blog, Bizarre Zoology

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Atlas Bear > Nandi Bear Again

One of my facebook friends posted this image of what looks very much like a bear engraved into a rock face in the middle of the Sahara and estimated to be 6000 years old:

This was labelled with a name approximately meaning "Boogieman" but to me it looks like an extremely good portrait of a Eurasian brown bear with a small hump on the shoulders, pom-pom ears, dished face, "Piglike" snout and even a sort of a grin on his face. He seems to be carrying off a goat or ram slung over his shoulder. From Roman-age records we also know that the Ethiopian bear known to be flourishing then was of much the same appearance and nature. When the Arabs began setting up trading posts in East Africa (at about the same time as the Viking Age in the North Atlantic), they made mentions of what they called a Duba according to Heuvelmans, the usual word meaning "Bear", and apparently all along the Zanj or Eastern coast of Africa down to Zanzibar.

It would seem to me that people who had been saying "there are no bears in Africa to account for the Nandi Bear (Chemosit or 'Boogeyman' )" have just been wrong all along to say that. The simplest hypothesis is that the Nandi bear really is a bear, and a not especially unusual bear, either.


  1. I would say by relying on Biogeography there are good chances that the bear found south of Ethiopia might be distinct from the Atlas Bear or the Brown bear. In 1936 Georges Sandrart, having seen one, described the Nandi bear like this : "a sloping back, relatively long legs, absence of tail, large snout, little rounded ears". That's one unusual bear to me; a predatory hyena-like bear to be more precise and quite reminescent of the Macfarlane's bear, even though probably not closely related.

  2. Alright, let's look at that again:
    1) Sloping back=Hump on shoulders, sloping back from that=OK
    2) Relatively long legs=troublesome observation because we don't know exactly how long relatively. There was some flap a while back about a night trailcam photo of a mamma black bear and her cubs, and it was said to be a Bigfoot or to have legs more like a chimpanzee in proportion. A direct measurement proved this was just an impression and not actually really different from other black bears. So this observation could also be a mistaken one and hard to tell for sure.
    3) absence of tail=near standard
    4) large snout=about standard, NOT a shortfaced bear, and
    5) Little rounded ears=Typical of brown bear and NOT a hyena.
    Furthermore, the hump on the back, long snout and small rounded ears are all depicted on the rock-art from the Sahara. The end result is that it is probably a distinct subspecies from the Atlas bear, but not necessarily a different species, and other commentators before me use the term "Atlas bear" because it is recognisably "African brown bear". And I'll agree that is what we most likely have, an African brown bear.

    1. Fair enough. At the beginning of 2012, there was a mystery creature rampaging in a Namibian village, do you think think it could've also been a bear ? Pig shoulders=hump and dog-headed.

  3. Dale, do you know a source for the image? I'd like to find out more.

  4. Possibly, but at the time the explanation it was only a dog seemed to have the most support. Descriptions were vague then and there have been no more recent reports to my knowledge

  5. As to a source-I got it from a friend who posted it on Facebook in one of the discussion groups. I can ask her.


This blog does NOT allow anonymous comments. All comments are moderated to filter out abusive and vulgar language and any posts indulging in abusive and insulting language shall be deleted without any further discussion.