New ‘pizzly’ bear hybrid found as climate change sees polars and grizzlies mate

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Climate change has seen the emergence of 'pizzly' bears as polars and grizzlies venture out of their natural habitats to find food.

Scientists say that an increase in global temperature and the melting of Arctic sea ice has forced starving polar bears further south, where they cross path with grizzlies, whose ranges are similarly expanding north.

The two creatures are increasingly mating and producing offspring – and experts believe that these new hybrids could be better equipped to deal with our changing world.

Larisa DeSantis from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science: "Usually hybrids aren't better suited to their environments than their parents, but there is a possibility that these hybrids might be able to forage for a broader range of food sources.

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  • Days could get longer if polar ice caps keep melting as Earth would get heavier

"Polar bears have longer skulls, which makes them experts at grabbing seals out of the sea. But their molars are smaller than is typical for their body size because all they eat is blubber all day.

"Grizzlies, on the other hand, can eat whatever they want. We don't know yet, but perhaps the intermediate skull of the pizzly could confer a biomechanical advantage."

The two species are able to mate and produce offspring – which have been found to be fertile – as they only diverged from one original species between 500,000 to 600,000 years ago.

The fist sighting of a pizzly bear in the wild came in 2006, when a hunter shot what he thought was a polar bear in the Northwest of the Canadian Arctic.

However, when he took a closer look he found the slain animal had the cream-white fur of a polar bear but the long claws, humped back, shallow face and brown patches of a grizzly.

Since then, there has been an increase in sightings of the hybrids, and in 2017 a study showed eight pizzy cubs springing from a single female polar bear who mated with two grizzly bears.

  • Cruel £11m 'polar bear hotel' lets guests watch 'miserable' animals from rooms 24/7

Polar bears are projected to decline by 30 percent over the next 30 years.

Not only are they losing swathes of territory, but the stricken beasts are starving due to a severe decline in their food source of blubbery seals.

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