Found in both the wild and in zoos, “Grolar Bears” a.k.a. “Pizzly Bears” have a major identity crisis, mixing two of the animal kingdom’s most ferocious bears: the Polar Bear and the Grizzly Bear.
And global warming may be speeding up the evolution of this new arctic hybrid.
It’s known that if polar bears and grizzly bears are introduced in captivity they’ll successfully crossbreed, producing successful offspring. But what about in the wild?
Though polar bears and grizzly bears have shared terrain for hundreds of years, thanks to global warming, when the sea ice melts it moves polar bears onshore (closer to grizzlies) and with a warmer climate comes a more suitable habitat for the grizzlies altogether.
Thus, more opportunities for the two species in arctic regions to meet, interact and then, get down to “funky town”. Nevertheless, there’s a major concern that the grizzly bears (that are more adapted to warmer temperatures) essentially could absorb the polar bear into their larger population, creating a new sub-species of bear altogether.
“It’s important to recognize that polar bears branched off of grizzly bears rather recently in evolutionary terms,” said Dr. Brendan Kelly via Pacific Standard Magazine. “And when a species splits into two it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a period of isolation for them to evolve differences, and it often takes an even greater period of isolation for them to become so different that they can’t hybridize if they re-encounter one another. So this happens over and over and over again in evolution. It’s really sort of the basis of the Darwinian theory.”
So as “man” continues to ruin Earth, emitting greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.) into the atmosphere, thus creating a greenhouse effect that’s warming up our planet, consider that we’re affecting the world in so many more ways than one.
Global warming is melting the polar ice caps and causing various species to come in contact (that wouldn’t normally on a regular basis).
Though it sounds quite cool to create a new species of bear, it could actually have a detrimental outcome.
“The main danger posed to the hybrids themselves is that they aren’t as well suited to their respective environments as their parents,” said Matt Hoffman via Science World Report. “Pizzly bears tend to hunt like polar bears, but lack the strong swimming skills of polar bears, and their grizzly bear-like claws prevent them from moving well on ice.”
Though there’s been suspected sightings in the past, the first confirmed discovery happened in 2006, when an Idaho hunter killed what he believed to be a normal polar bear in Northwest Territories, Canada. After closer investigation, officials noticed that the bear carried some characteristics of a grizzly bear: long claws, humped back, shallow face and brown patches near the eyes. Later, a DNA test concluded the bear was a hybrid with a polar bear mother and a grizzly bear father.