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The Ursus minimus, also known as the Auvergne bear, evolved from Protursus about 5.3 million years ago and existed for roughly 3.5 million years during the Pliocene. It is an ancestor of all bears of the genus Ursus, and the immediate ancestor of the Etruscan bear.

Numerous remains of the Auvergne bear have been found in Spain, France, and Italy. It is also believed to have been endemic to China and North Africa.

As the name Ursus minimus indicates, it was a small bear that generally increased in size during its existance, having many similarities to the modern American black bear, weighing only about 100 pounds. It measured roughly the same size as the sun bear of today, and was anatomically the same as today's black bears. In fact, with the exception of the apparent difference in age, it is often difficult to distinguish the remains of Ursus minimus from those of modern Asiatic black bears

The teeth of the Auvergne bear were bigger and different from the canids' teeth. Their molars and pre-molars had moved away from almost totally shearing meat, and adapted to much more crushing of vegetation, and formed large grinding surfaces. The difficulty of digesting vegetation also forced lengthening of their intestines to adapt to their omnivorous diet.

The Auvergne bear was the initial species of the Ursinae family and the Ursus line. existing for roughly 3.5 million years, from 5.3 Mya to 1.8 Mya.

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