|THE BEAR CLUB IS TRYING TO CLIMB.|
The fossil record indicates that black bears once ranged as far west as Germany and France, though the species now occurs very patchily throughout its former range, which is now limited to the Asian continent. Black bears occupy a narrow band from southeastern Iran eastward through Afghanistan and Pakistan, across the foothills of the Himalayas in India, toMyanmar. With the exception of Malaysia, black bears occur in all countries in mainland Southeast Asia. They are absent from much of east-central China, though they have a patchy distribution in the southern and northeastern part of the country. Other population clusters exist in the southern Russian Far East and into North Korea. South Korea has a small remnant population. Black bears also occur in Japan's southern islands of Honshu and Shikoku and on Taiwan and Hainan.There is no definitive estimate as to the number of Asiatic black bears: Japan posed estimates of 8-14,000 bears living on Honshu, though the reliability of this is now doubted. Although their reliability is unclear, rangewide estimates of 5–6,000 bears have been presented by Russian biologists. Rough density estimates without corroborating methodology or data have been made in India and Pakistan, resulting in the estimates of 7–9,000 in India and 1,000 in Pakistan. Unsubstantiated estimates from China give varying estimates between 15–46,000, with a government estimate of 28,000projections of the skull are weakly developed; the sagittal crest is low and short, even in old specimens, and does not exceed more than 19–20% of the total length of the skull, unlike in brown bears, which have sagittal crests comprising up to 41% of the skull's length. Although mostly herbivorous, the jaw structure of Asian black bears is not as specialised for plant eating as that of pandas: Asian black bears have much narrower zygomatic arches, and the weight ratio of the twopterygoid muscles is also much smaller in Asian black bears. However, the lateral slips of thetemporal muscles are thicker and stronger in black bearsWithin Sikhote-Alin, the breeding season of black bears occurs earlier than in brown bears, starting from mid June to mid August. Birth also occurs earlier, in mid January. By October, the uterine horns of pregnant females grow to 15–22 mm. By late December, the embryos weigh 75 grams.Sows generally have their first litter at the age of three years. Pregnant females generally make up 14% of populations. Similar to brown bears, Asian black bears have delayed implantation.Sows usually give birth in caves or hollow trees in winter or early spring after a gestation period of 200–240 days. Cubs weigh 13 ounces at birth, and will begin walking at four days of age, and open their eyes three days later. The skulls of newborn black bear cubs bear great resemblance to those of adult sun bears. Litters can consist of 1–4 cubs, with 2 being the average.Cubs have a slow growth rate, reaching only 2.5 kg by May.Black bear cubs will nurse for 104–130 weeks, and become independent at 24–36 months. There is usually a 2–3 year interval period before females produce subsequent litters.The average lifespan in the wild is 25 years, while the oldest Asian black bear in captivity died at the age of 44.