WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Climate change has pushed polar bears to mate with grizzlies.
- This has led to the creation of a new, more resilient breed called “Pizzly bears”.
- Recent reports reveal that polar bears may be completely wiped out by 2100.
The continuous threat of climate change to the habitat of polar bears has led these critically endangered marine mammals to cross-breed with other animals.
In Alaska, polar bears that mated with native grizzlies produced a new breed called ‘pizzly bears.’ The hybrid species, also called a grolar bear or a nanulak, lives both in the wild and in captivity and could withstand warmer climates.
Paleontologist Larisa DeSantis told Daily Mail: “This new type of bear is more resilient to climate change and better suited for warmer temperatures.” DeSantis also said things are not looking good for polar bears, whose breed is in rapid decline due to the decline in sea ice, preventing them from hunting seals. Another reason cited by DeSantis is the inability of polar bears to adapt to the warm Arctic.
According to DeSantis, the same case happened to saber-toothed cats, which also have specialized diets and went extinct when their food supply went away.
Meanwhile, grizzly bears from Alaska and Canada are reportedly moving north because of the increasing temperatures of their original habitat. Hence, the two types of bears are being pushed into contact more by the changing climate.
Around 500,000 to 600,000 years ago, the two types of bears shared a common ancestor before they diverged, said DeSantis. After conducting a study to compare the dental structure of polar bears and grizzly bears, her team found that grizzlies can better adapt in periods of warming.
From the study of the bears’ mouths, DeSantis and her team found that polar bears have smaller molars than grizzlies, but they have larger canines than their counterpart. DeSantis explains that it is because polar bears eat jellos and sea mammals’ fat all day. But polar bears compensate by having elongated skulls that help them effectively hunt seals.
Studies reveal that if climate change continues to cause a decline in sea ice, polar bears might be completely extinct by the end of the century.
A recent report that calculated the endurance limits of polar bears based on their energy use found that high greenhouse gas emissions can result in only a few polar bears surviving by 2100. The report also said that even if the emissions were reduced to moderate, several polar bear populations will still disappear.
According to the chief scientist of Polar Bears International, Dr. Steven Amstrup, who was involved in the study, it will start with the low survival rates of cubs because mother polar bears won’t have enough fat to help them produce enough milk for their cubs during the ice-free season.
“Any of us know that we can only go without food for so long,” said Amstrup. “That’s a biological reality for all species.”