The Prius isn’t the only environmentally conscious hybrid out there.
With climate change pushing polar bears toward the brink, nature has devised a new animal to help preserve the species — the Pizzly Bear.
First seen in the wild in 2006, this polar bear-grizzly hybrid “is more resilient to climate change and better suited for warmer temperatures,” according to paleontologist Larisa DeSantis of Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University. The carnivore tooth expert co-authored a study in how the diet of polar bears differed in a warming world.
The Pizzly Bear, identifiable by their off-white coat and elongated schnoz, were reportedly formed when melting sea ice forced the world’s largest land carnivore to migrate inland. There, they hooked up with grizzlies migrating north from Alaska.
This perhaps marks an evolutionary 180 from when polar bears and grizzlies diverged from a common ancestor hundreds of thousands of years ago, Vital Ground reported.
“It is not looking good for polar bears,” said DeSantis, who blames the arctic beast’s decline on the melting sea ice where they hunt seals — their preferred prey.
Unfortunately, their highly specialized diet of blubber means they could soon go extinct a la the saber tooth tiger and other persnickety predators. DeSantis deduced this by analyzing the skulls of 20 polar bears, some of which were 1,000 years old.
She found that while effective for hunting seals, these noggins’ elongated structure might’ve prevented the predators from switching to new diets amid climate change.
This could be why they mated with grizzly bears, whose jaws are better equipped to eat plant tubers or scavenge carcasses when resources are scarce.
In fact, Pizzly Bears have been sighted as far south as Idaho.
“Only animals that were already generalized or able to adapt survived,” lamented DeSantis. “Specialists like the polar bear are at greater risk of extinction, especially if their habitat is literally melting away.”