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Pizzly or Grolar Bear?

on November 7, 2009

BBC News: “Polar Bear Plus Grizzly Equals?If you’re in the forest, beware the menacing grolar bear.

If you’ve heard of zonkeys, ligers, or wholphins before, then you’re aware of some of the interesting animal “hybrids” that exist in nature or captivity. For creationists, these hybrids remind us of the original created kinds of Genesis 1—despite millennia of speciating effects.

Of the nearly twenty grolar bears known to exist, only one was found in the wild.

The combination of a polar bear and a grizzly bear (a type of brown bear) has been observed in both the wild and in captivity, but scientists have now released a full study of the hybrids born at Osnabruck Zoo in Germany. The two polar/grizzly hybrids were born in 2004 to their grizzly bear mother.

In many ways, the hybrid bears show traits that are a combination of grizzly and polar bear features. For example, they are slightly smaller than their father polar bear but larger than their mother grizzly; their heads are also in-between the slenderness of polar bear heads and the boxiness of grizzly heads; and their feet have a moderate amount of hair—less than the covered feet of polar bears, but more than the less hairy feet of grizzlies. Even microscopic images of their shafts of hair show a blend of polar and grizzly features.

Other features of the hybrids come from only one parent. For instance, the hybrids have visible tails, like their polar bear relatives; but they have small shoulder humps like brown bears. They also behave much more like polar bears, stamping on some objects and hurling others, actions that polar bears use frequently in the wild.

Of the nearly twenty grolar bears known to exist, only one was found in the wild, as polar bears and grizzly bears have generally exclusive habitats. The scientists are waiting to determine if the female hybrid is fertile, which would suggest that a hybrid population could exist in the wild were the bears’ habitats to overlap more in the future.

Although the researchers believe the two species of bear split a few hundred thousand years ago, the ability of polar and grizzly bears to reproduce successfully also fits with the biblical view: that they descend from the same created kind through their ancestral bear representatives on the Ark about 4,500 years ago. And technically speaking, according to previous usage the two shouldn’t be considered separate “species” at all; they can reproduce successfully.

(For those interested in learning more about hybrids, or seeing some in real life, remember that the Creation Museum has both a zonkey (zebra x donkey) and a zorse (zebra x horse) in its petting zoo!)

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

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