Gene Expression

Pizzly shot

A few weeks ago I mentioned that there is some debate as to the taxonomy of the Polar Bear; specifically, as to whether it was simply a clade of the Brown Bear species. Interesting, I note that today a Polar Bear-Grizzly hybrid was shot in Canada:

There have long been stories of oddly coloured bears living in regions where the two territories overlap.

But until now, grizzly-polar hybrids, dubbed “grolar bears” or “pizzlies”, have been found only in zoos.

The hybrid bear was shot last month by an American big game hunter on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada.

His guide, Roger Kuptana, noticed the creature had the long claws and slightly humped back of a grizzly bear and thought it might be a hybrid.

The body was seized by officials, who sent a DNA sample for tests which confirmed its unusual origins.

If this is not a “one-off” or sterile hybrid that leaves the opening for gene flow between these populations.


  1. #1 Coturnix
    May 26, 2008

    That is a couple of years old shot. I wonder if there were any sightings since then.

  2. #2 razib
    May 26, 2008

    man…never trust digg.

  3. #3 pough
    May 26, 2008

    You can easily change “I note that today a Polar Bear-Grizzly hybrid was shot” to “I note today that a Polar Bear-Grizzly hybrid was shot”. 😉

  4. #4 Caledonian
    May 26, 2008

    There won’t be much gene flow if people keep shooting all of the hybrids they see.

    On a more serious note, I thought it’d already been accepted that polar bears weren’t a distinct species. Just how controversial is the issue?

  5. #5 Ian
    May 27, 2008

    It won’t be the last time that a Polar bear comes to a Grizzly end….

  6. #6 BOB
    May 27, 2008

    The great majority of conservationists/environmentalists do not accept the Dobzhansky/Mayr biological definition of species (ie a set of individuals mutually fertile …) and instead rely upon morphological features. Thus, the existence of fertile hybrids is irrelevant to them. It is also irrelevant to the Endangered Species Act, which also uses morphological criteria.

  7. #7 frog
    May 27, 2008

    Well, if hybrids are sufficient to unite two species, I guess we have to move the human/chimp split forward to 2.5 mya, since gene flow was still happening till the chromosome number changed…

    Seriously, it makes little sense to categorize species and clades purely be fertility. Biology will not be reduced.

  8. #8 EM
    May 29, 2008

    When I read this story two years ago, I thought this was another evidence that evolution is still marching on, independently of humans.

    This brings me to my pet peeve about environmentalists. Their politics are all based on one fundamental assumption: evolution stopped running when human industry started running. This assumption is, we all know, false but difficult to disprove. This “pizzly” bear is one proof.

New comments have been disabled.