Few animals are as closely associated with humans as bears. From the Greek legend of "Callisto" to "Winnie-the-Pooh", bears have throughout history been a rich source of imagery, myth, story and legend. "Bear" begins 25 million years ago with 'dawn bear', the small dog-sized ancestor of all bears. Tracing the evolution of the bear family, the author discusses extinct types, such as the cave bear and the giant short-faced bear, as well as describing in detail the eight species that exist today. Several of these species are now facing extinction, and the book considers the impact of current human behaviour on bears and their environments. "Bear" explores the bear-human relationship and how human perceptions of bears have changed over time. Drawing from cultures around the world, it discusses the various legends and myths, including the ceremonies and taboos that surround hunting, killing and eating bears. It also looks at representations of bears in contemporary culture: as the subjects of stories, songs, cartoons and films; as exhibits in pits, circuses and zoos; and also as toys. The book concludes by considering the precarious future of the bear, threatened as it is by loss of habitats, disease, pollution, global warming and poaching for the medicinal trade. "Bear" will appeal to all those interested in the past, present and future of these extraordinary creatures.