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Pozzlies, Grizzpos? What to Call the Hybrid Bears?

Pozzlies, Grizzpos? What to Call the Hybrid Bears?
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In spring 2012 two University of Alberta scientists reported an unusual sight. Jodie Pongracz and Evan Richardson thought they were seeing a grizzly and a polar bear ambling along together.

The bears were at 73 degrees North latitude, well north of the usual grizzly habitat. What first appeared to be a polar bear turned out to be a hybrid, something still rare but becoming increasingly common as warming temperatures send grizzly bears farther north.

According to Yale’s environment360:

Up until about 20 years ago, sightings of grizzlies in the High Arctic were relatively rare. But that began to change as a succession of brown bears started showing up on the Arctic islands, following caribou perhaps that routinely cross over from the mainland. No one had seriously thought that these grizzlies would eventually mate with polar bears until Roger Kuptana, an Inuit guide from Sachs Harbour on Banks Island, led an American hunter to one in the spring of 2006. The killing of that animal made headlines around the world.

This is not the first time climate change has led to hybrid bears. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Buffalo traced genome sequences of a polar bear, three brown bears and a black bear. In addition, they were able to study samples from 23 other polar bears, including one that had lived some 120,000 years ago. They found that although polar bears and brown bears became two separate species 4 to 5 million years ago, they had interbred during a time of warming climate half a million years ago.

Next: New Hybrid Spotted by Hunter

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Photo credits: Thinkstock

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184 comments

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5:07PM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Interesting article, thank you.

5:07PM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Interesting article, thank you.

6:38AM PDT on Sep 22, 2012

they evolved from brown bears.
also, Scottish wild cat is being hybridized into extinction. I saw they think they have 6 months left untill being classifyed as extinct in the wild.

8:06AM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

I like the summing up: It doesn't really matter what they are named, because hybridization aside, it won't matter when the polar bear loses its habitat, because humans will be so busy trying to preserve their own lives, they won't care about a bear.

7:11AM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

Grazie per l'articolo.

11:01AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

Thanks for the article.

10:36AM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

Interesting article.

2:06PM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

Thanks

6:09AM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

Nature knows what she is doing. Maybe the best way to save polar bears is to let them combine their genes once again with their distant cousin. Then when the time comes - maybe many hundreds of years from now & the earth once again cools the great polar bear will return. There is great danger in man interfering with the 'hybridization' process as we will lose the polar genes altogether if they go extinct, except for the few kept in captivity.

5:06PM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

How about Priuses? :D

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