Polar-Grizzly Bear Hybrids Now Found in the Wild

Polar-Grizzly Bear Hybrids Now Found in the Wild

A polar-grizzly bear hybrid walking on the shore.

Written by Erin Marty

Polar-grizzly bear hybrids – also known as grolar bears – were once thought to be found only in zoos. Now they are being discovered in the wild.

On Banks Island in 2006, a strange creature was shot: a grolar bear. The DNA of the animal was tested by scientists, who discovered that the shot bear was the offspring of a polar bear and grizzly bear. In 2010, a second-generation hybrid was also found and shot in the wild of Canada’s Northwest Territories by David Kuptana.

Both of these events prove that polar-grizzly hybrids are not only surviving, but thriving in the wild. They are successfully passing on their genes to newer generations. Once believe to be reproducing solely in captivity, researchers are finding out that polar-grizzly hybrid bears are now being discovered beyond the containing walls of zoos.

So what does this mean? Why are these bears – usually so far from each other in their natural environments – interbreeding? According to National Geographic, researchers have concluded that each species is being forced into closer proximity with one another. Unfortunately, much of their natural habitat is lost is due to human intervention and impacts. On top of that, there are even some scientists who believe that global warming is to blame.

Marine biology of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska, Brendan Kelly, suggests that these polar-grizzly hybrids are, if anything, going to become a rather popular addition to the animal kingdom. This is primarily because of the melting sea ice, and without sea ice for them to hunt and live on, the polar bears will be forced further inland near grizzly bears, thus resulting in an increase of polar-grizzly hybrids.

In the end, there may be even more mixed creatures than just polar-grizzly hybrids. Kelly states: “We’re taking this continent-sized barrier to animal movement, and in a few generations, it’s going to disappear, at least in summer months. That’s going to give a lot of organisms-a lot of marine mammals in particular-who’ve been separated for at least 10,000 years the opportunity to interbreed again, and we’re predicting we’re going to see a lot of that.”

Along with other animals that may possibly interbreed, if Kelly is correct, then the near future is sure to find more polar-grizzly bear hybrids. That being said, if you ever find yourself in one of those rare and heart-pounding situations in which you spy a bear in the wild, you may be looking at a grolar bear if it has the following attributes: lengthy necks, broad shoulders and humps, oh and of course the combination of coarse polar and grizzly hairs. But, to be on the safe side, you may want to keep your hybrid tacking skills solely at the zoo.

Amazing New Deep-Sea Species Discovered in Antarctica

Amazing New Deep-Sea Species Discovered in Antarctica
Written by: Fruzsina Molnar
Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent

Deep-sea hydrothermal vent emits plumes of black smoke.

Antarctic researchers have discovered entire communities of new species living in and on deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean. The team of British scientists reported their results, which detail the new creatures and their habitats, on Tuesday (January 3) in the PLoS Biology journal.

In the first exploration of these vents that lie along the very bottom of the ocean floor near Antarctica, the researchers, led by Alex D. Rogers of the zoology department at Oxford University, found colonies of as-yet-undiscovered types of yeti crab, stalked barnacles, limpets and snails, sea anemones, and even, the study notes, “a predatory seven-armed starfish.”

Rogers and his colleagues used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to scour the terrain of one piece of the Southern Ocean Floor. On the East Scotia Ridge, an area that lies between the southernmost tip of South America and Antarctica, the researchers explored the hydrothermal vents, which can create undersea environments of over 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

The species who live on these vents underneath the sea are special, because they harness their energy from the vents themselves, rather than the species closer to the surface, which can access sunlight. As Rogers writes in their report, the vents “are mainly associated with seafloor spreading at mid-ocean ridges and in basins near volcanic island arcs. They host animals found nowhere else that derive their energy not from the sun but from bacterial oxidation of chemicals in the vent fluids, particularly hydrogen sulphide.”

The ROVs brought back images that interested the researchers for a number of reasons. It turns out that this hydrothermal habitat was very different from similar areas in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. “What we didn’t find is almost as surprising as what we did,” said Rogers. The usual vent animals, such as tubeworms, mussels, crabs, and shrimps that have been found in the other oceans, did not appear in this exploration, which suggests that vent ecosystems could be much more diverse than scientists have thought. Instead, the ROVs showed entirely new species, including a crowded colonies of over 600 yeti crabs clustered around each vent, utilizing the natural heat emissions for warmth.

“We were completely blown away by what we found,” Jon Copley, a co-researcher from the University of Southampton told Fox News’s LiveScience. “These are the lushest, richest vents, in terms of life, that I’ve come across.”

The North Dakota Museum of Art Roars

"Animals, Then and Now"

Lions, and tiger, and bears…oh my!!!  The North Dakota Museum of Art is bringing them to life through an extraordinary touring exhibit, “Animals, Now and Then”.  The museum features artists’ works in the form of captivating video, stunning photography, numerous paintings, and sculpture.  This contemporary exhibit highlights the work of twenty artists from across North and South America, and was put together by Museum Director, Laurel Rueter

The art that has been assembled paints a picture of the complexities of the animal kingdom, and reminds us that we (humans) are but one of the nearly 10 million species of animals inhabiting this planet.  The exhibit reveals contrasting points-of-views and conflicting visions of life.  The North Dakota Museum of Art, through their careful selection of pieces, has assembled an interesting and unique showing.

This is a worthwhile exhibit for any of us, but students in particular are encouraged to take a tour.  Schools within a 50 mile radius are eligible for reimbursement for the cost, so no excuses.  The North Dakota Museum of Art has painstakingly put together this amazing exhibit for our enjoyment and appreciation.  Take a walk on the wild side!