Sunday, May 14, 2006

'Once you can't find anyone from your own species to mate with, you perhaps lower your standards'

That's the response of zoologist David Paetkau to the discovery of a grizzly-polar bear hybrid in the far north of Canada. The creature has (or had - it was, as you can see, shot by hunters a couple of weeks ago) long grizzly bear claws, a humped grizzly back, and mostly white fur. Petkau reckons it was created because a male grizzly bear which had travelled north to eat seals was unable one of his own species to mate with, and had to settle for a polar bear.

Whatever happened to romance?

There's now a contest on to think up clever names for the new sub-species - pizzly, grizzlar, and grolar are all doing the rounds amongst zoologists. Some people are even worrying that the purity of the polar bear volk might be at risk, as global warming brings more and more grizzly bears into their traditional territory and sets the scene for more unions:

If global warming is driving grizzlies farther north into polar bear territory, as some locals and scientists believe, there's a possibility that polar bear genes may disappear as the two species interbreed.

"Polar bears could lose their distinction," [Petkau] says.

"The trickle of grizzlies going north is turning into a stream. The hybrid event might be more common than we know."

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