About the SA Blog Network

Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world
Extinction Countdown Home

Polar-grizzly bear hybrid found in Canada

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

An extremely rare “grolar bear“—a polar-grizzly bear hybrid—was shot and killed by an Inuit hunter in Canada’s Northwest Territories last month.

Global warming has reportedly been driving grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) farther north in search of food, bringing them into polar bear (U. maritimus) territory. Polar bears, meanwhile, are finding themselves stranded on land instead of their usual sea ice, bringing them into contact with the grizzlies.

This is only the second time that a grolar bear has been encountered in the wild and confirmed, but even with its rarity, it is more distinctive than expected. DNA tests released by the N.W.T. Environment and Natural Resources Department reveal that this was actually a second-generation grolar bear—meaning one of its parents (its mother) was already a polar-grizzly hybrid. The father was a purebred grizzly, the tests found.

The hunter knew he had something unusual, which is why he asked to have it identified. The bear had the polar bear’s white fur but a bigger head, brown paws and longer claws more typical of a grizzly bear.

The first grolar bear confirmed in the wild was killed by a hunter in 2006. A few others have been born in zoos.

Rights & Permissions

Comments 5 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. abarel 3:33 pm 05/24/2010

    And the next generation will mate a Kodiak with a Grolar Bear and create the Uberbear: Ursa Uberas and the world will tremble.

    Link to this
  2. 2. mmccullough10 8:10 am 05/25/2010

    I don’t see what the deal is with the "groler bear" scientist have to do what they have to do in order to keep both of these species alive from becoming extinct.

    Link to this
  3. 3. outsidethebox 4:18 pm 05/25/2010

    Since these two groups can breed and produce fertile offspring then they are one species. Are blacks a different species than caucasians? It’s kind of a different answer when it has to do with you personally isn’t it?

    Link to this
  4. 4. JosephVos 4:07 am 05/26/2010

    A picture would have been in place here…

    Link to this
  5. 5. Druid ocaroline 11:36 am 06/3/2010

    Ice ages have periodically frozen the artic ocean, the polar bear as far as humans are concerned must surely come and go with the climate.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article