Grizzly bear + polar bear = pizzly bear

Is nature playing Pokémon?

Vanderbilt researcher explains Pizzly bear hybrid species

Climate change sucks but nature has an uncanny knack for adapting to new environments. After all, it’s been doing it for billions of years. An example that piqued my interest was the breeding of grizzly and polar bears to produce hybrids known as pizzly bears (or grolar bears if you prefer that portmanteau).

Pizzly bears were first discovered in the wild in 2006 and the reason for the pairing relates to both species moving to better climates: grizzlies are looking for warmth and polar bears are looking for cold. They meet halfway, come into contact when hunting, and engage in “opportunistic mating,” according to Larisa DeSantis, an associate professor of biological sciences at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University.

DeSantis also says they’re “more resilient to climate change and better suited for warmer temperatures”:

“We’ve known about pizzlies for quite some time, but their occurrence may be more common with ongoing Arctic warming […] Usually hybrids aren’t better suited to their environments than their parents, but there is a possibility that these hybrids might be able to forage for a broader range of food sources.”

Animal related: that time when the UN claimed a million species were close to extinction

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