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asked Apr 9 in H&E by irafigu (120 points)

From pizzly bears to strange fish, here’s why hybrid animal sightings are on the rise

The bear scientists shot in the Canadian arctic in 2016 was a biological mystery. It looked like a grizzly bear, complete with long claws and a prominent snout, but most of its fur was white.

Call it a pizzly or maybe a grolar bear. Either way, scientists determined the animal was the rare offspring of a polar bear that mated with a grizzly, and as the Arctic melts and polar bears increasingly move on land, sightings of these hybrids are on the rise.

Pizzly bears aren’t being born en masse, said Charlotte Lindqvist, a biology professor at the University of Buffalo whose lab focuses on evolutionary genetics. The accounts of the bears are mostly anecdotal, and it’s unclear how widespread the phenomenon is.

For instance, eight of the bear hybrids were found to be the children of a particular female polar bear with a seeming proclivity for male grizzlies.

But as global temperature rises and Arctic ice melts, polar bears will have more chances to encounter – and mate with – other bear species.

“This might just be the beginning,” Lindqvist told CNN. “The pressure is on, and we can clearly see in certain areas polar bears are spending more time on land as the sea ice is disappearing. Brown and black bears are encroaching on more Arctic habitat. And I think that’s just going to expand.”

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