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Unusual Number of Grizzly and Hybrid Bears Spotted in High Arctic
Two Canadian biologists have reported sighting a handful of grizzly bears and hybrid grizzly/polar bears at unusually high latitudes in the Arctic, indicating that the interbreeding of the two bear species is becoming more common as the climate warms and grizzlies venture farther north. The sightings of three grizzly bears and two hybrid bears, made in late April and May, represent an unprecedented cluster of these animals at such high latitudes. The biologists even took DNA samples from a grizzly bear at 74 degrees North latitude.
The report of the sightings comes on the heels of a recently published analysis of newly sequenced polar bear genomes, suggesting that climate change and genetic exchange with brown bears helped create the polar bear as we know it today. The genetic mixing that the Pennsylvania State and University of Buffalo analysis identified happening in the past — in which polar bears would interbreed with grizzly bears as the polar bears’ sea ice habitat shrunk — is now happening again, according to bear biologists.
The sightings this spring represent the fourth and fifth confirmed hybrid bear sightings in recent years. Scientists say that it is evident from reports from Inuit hunters that many other animals are adapting their lifestyles to changes in climate, just as grizzlies did when they split from polar bears four to five million years ago.
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.
Originally posted by SoymilkAlaska
oh wow pizzly bears!
Originally posted by loam
From what I understand from the links above, these hybrids are fertile, and so can bread.
I had no idea this was possible between the two species.
edit on 29-7-2012 by loam because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by loam
reply to post by Qumulys
I wonder what name they will provide to this hybrid?
Someone already mentioned "pizzly bear".
Polar Grizzly, maybe?