The Mexican Grizzly Bear, also known as the Silver Grizzly (Spanish: oso plateado, Opata: pissini), was a subspecies of Brown Bear declared extinct in 1964. It was the largest land mammal in Mexico, and ranged through what is now Arizona, New Mexico, southern California and southern Texas.
From David Day’s The Doomsday Book of Animals (1981):
“To give some idea of the degree the Brown Bear has suffered from contact with Europeans, it is perhaps useful to look at (Clinton Hart) Merriam’s (1918) classifications of ‘geographic races’. By Merriam’s system there would be nearly two dozen extinctions since 1850. (…) Merriam’s distinctions were unscientific by modern standards, and only four subspecies are recognized in North America today; but his lists do give some picture of the enormous shrinking of the Brown Bear’s range in the face of human colonization.”
Some believe that these bears may still exist, as research has determined that sufficient food sources and secluded habitat are enough that small populations of these bears may still live undetected. However an expedition in 1968 found no trace of these animals.
“I’m fascinated by the mythological place that bears occupy in the human psyche. I also hadn’t previously been aware that big brown bears ever lived in the Southwest. The story of the Silver Grizzly’s eradication seems, to me, parallel to so many other colonial histories: they were hunted vigorously because their very existence ran counter to settlement plans for a New World.” – Shaun Slifer
One in a series of nine, this original elongated penny was designed by Shaun Slifer, and made on a machine created by he and Stuart O. Anderson. While currently producing small runs of single-sided penny editions, the completed machine will produce double-sided pennies matching extinct and critically endangered animals with urban wildlife. Read more about the project…
Please note: while these pennies were all cleaned prior to rolling, each will bear individual variations as a result of their former existence as circulated currency, showing various patinas and markings per penny.