Sea Bears

Sea Bear (artist Dick Hentz, used with permission of Marc Miller)Sea bears (Pseudoarctos ansonii, et al) are large, dangerous, amphibious carnivores native to Thengo ( Chronor / Spinward Marches 0202), but which have been distributed to a large number of worlds in the Chronor, Jewell, Querion, Lianic ( Gvurrdon ), and Massina ( Foreven ) subsectors, apparently as part of pre-Imperial colonization projects. Also known as the "surfer's nightmare".

Adults are typically 1 to 2 meters long, and weigh upwards of 50 kilograms. The skeleton is calciferous, internal, and generally resembles that of a Terran mammalian vertebrate, except in the number of limbs and in the framing of the body cavity. The spinal column runs from the base of the skull dorsally along the body until it reaches the pelvis. Instead of ribs, the sea bear's body cavity is suppoerted by short lengths of bone joined in what some have described as geodesic fashion (i.e., as a series of mutually interconnected triangles). This arrangement is very sturdy, and provides an excellent protection to the internal organs of the sea bear.

Externally, the most notable external feature of the sea bear is the number of limbs. Oddly enough for an animal of its size, the sea bear has four pairs of limbs: one posterior locomotory pair, one anterior pair used in defense and food acquisition, and two medial pairs which can serve either purpose. The head is typical, a bony cranium to protect the brain, upon which are mounted paired sensory organs (eyes, nostrils, ears) and a ventrally located mouth. The nose is located well forward, apparently as an adaptation for breathing while partially submerged.

Sea bears are carnivorous, and are usually found along seashores and in shallow off-shore areas of large bodies of water. Sea bears are solitary hunters, preying upon small aquatic and semi-aquatic animal life. The sea bear usually hunts by swimming slowly along the surface, and diving upon its prey from above, taking it by surprise. Its eight strong limbs make it powerful enough to hunt even in the surf zone.

During the mating season, sea bears will congregate in huge groups, sometimes consisting of hundreds of individuals. These groups settle for several weeks on an island or peninsula protected from dangers to the young, where male and female sea bears engage in a mating ritual not fully documented. Each pair eventually produces one to three young.

As soon as the young are able to travel (usually after six to eight weeks), the group breaks up into family units, which care for the young until they are able to fend for themselves (usually after six months). The family units then break up until the next mating season. Some observers have reported scattered instances of sea bears mating for life, and hunting as a team.

(JTAS-3: p28, DATE; BOJ-1: p17, 1103; TNE-RSB: p36, 1202)

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