"Grolar Bears" All Belong to the Same Family

When a grizzly bear breeds with a polar bear, the result is a hybrid called a grolar bear. They've been spotted and studied in Canada's western Arctic. All nine identified grolar bears are descended from one polar bear mother. As far as we know, the first hybrid was born in 2000 to a polar bear mother born in 1989. She mated with two different grizzly bears and produced four hybrid offspring. Her only hybrid female offspring also mated with two grizzlies and produced five more grolar bears which are 75% grizzly and 25% polar bear.

When the first grolar bear was discovered, scientists thought that more would follow, as climate change brought the territories of the two types of bear closer together. However, no other grolar bears have been seen outside of the nine hybrids in this family. The concern is that the lineage of grolar bear has become more brown and less white with the second generation. The grolar bear mother in the first generation of hybrids was raised by a white polar bear mother, and also raised her second-generation hybrids, who are even browner, to act like polar bears as well. It cannot be easy to sneak up on a seal on an ice cap when your fur is brown. Read more about the lineage of the grolar bear family at CBC, including a family tree chart that makes it more clear. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Samuell)

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