Mar 25, 2020
 in 
Nature

Animal Hybrids You Didn’t Know Existed

 BY 
Jeffrey Chin
T

he several changes happening in the world right now are affecting our environment in the most unexpected ways. Consequently, animals have to adapt to change, as well, although this is nothing new. Crossbreeding has become a new way to strengthen the genes of different animals by breeding with a stronger, more functional species allowing incredible animal hybrids to form.

“PRETTY MUCH EVERY PLANT AND ANIMAL ALIVE TODAY IS THE RESULT OF EONS OF NATURAL CROSS-BREEDING”Neil deGrass Tyson, Astrophysicist, Author, and Science Communicator

There are various ways that crossbreeding can happen. Sometimes, the strange mating partners find themselves by some twist of nature. Other times, human-made matches are the reasons for the exotic hybrids you can find.

A common theme with hybrids is that they are mostly born sterile. Also, crossbreeding ought to be possible only with animals in the same families or subfamilies. Here are some of the coolest breeds you didn’t know existed.

Hybrid Animals of the world

The Coywolf

The coywolf is one of those animal hybrids that is born when a female coyote mates with a male wolf. Coywolves are one of the few hybrids that are produced naturally in the wild. Experts say the reason the breeds crossed was because of habitat changes. With an increase in globalization, there isn’t as much space anymore for each species to live freely.

Nevertheless, researchers are attempting to curb mating between both breeds. It is feared that crossbreeding is diluting the original makeup of pure wolves, especially their endangered species.

Unlike most crossbreeds, the coywolves are fertile.  Therefore, they reproduce freely in the wild. They also combine traits of both animals, equipping them for survival in their habitats. A coywolf looks like a larger coyote with a few wolf-like features.

The Grolar Bear

A grolar bear is a cross between a brown grizzly bear and a polar bear. Grolar bears were first bred in the wild. DNA tests confirmed the new breed since they didn’t have any distinguishing features apart from their coat color. Since then, zoologists have bred the animal hybrids successfully in captivity.

Both species of bears started to crossbreed because of the effects of climate change on their habitats. With a new mixed breed, both bears can invade each other’s territory during the breeding season to manage scarce resources.

The Jaglion

Most jaglions are from male jaguars and female lions. Exotic pet owners typically breed them for pet purposes. However, legend tells of a few jaglions that have been born naturally in the wild. Besides, there have been cases where the parental species mate without the intention of their owners when they were kept together in isolation.

Generally, most Panthera animal hybrids that are male are sterile, making it difficult for them to survive in the wild. Panthera is a genus class of animals. It is where you get the word “panther” from.

The Wholphin

The wholphin is a rare crossbreed between a female bottlenose dolphin and a male false killer whale. The hybrid is extremely rare and belongs to the oceanic dolphin family. They are usually born in captivity.

Wholphins are usually successful breeders and can breed with other members of the same family. Wholphins are notably smaller than a bottlenose dolphin but larger than false killer whales.

The Liger

Crossbred from a Panthera Leo and a Panthera Tigris, the liger is the largest of all known extant felines. This beautiful animal was first bred for pet purposes and has since become famous for its characteristics as one of the most powerful animal hybrids.

A liger combines the love of swimming of a tiger with the sociableness of a lion. Although there are legends that tell of ligers in the wild, all known ligers were bred in captivity. This is probably because the habitats of the parental species do not overlap in the wild.

Historically, ligers were bred for their size, strength and beauty. An intriguing feature of the liger is how large they can grow. They are notably larger than both of their parent species. Some ligers are as heavy as 900 pounds and up to 10 feet long! Interestingly, ligers are, in fact, fertile, with some breedings occurring unintentionally.

The Zebroid

Zebroids can be wild, untamed, or domesticated, and can vary in their makeup. This depends on the other member of the Equine family that the Zebra reproduces with. Zebroids are also called zebra mules, zedonk and zebrule.

Typically, the male sire is the zebra with a female equine as his dame. Originally, zebras were bred with other equines to improve their immunity against the diseases that usually plague the species.

Depending on the zebra’s mate, a zebroid was bred for different purposes. For instance, a zonkey was produced for transportation and hauling weaponry, before they were converted to exotic riding mounts.

The Beefalo

A beefalo is a hybrid offspring of an American bison and a domestic cattle. Beefalos are a fertile crossbreed from the Bovidae family. A beefalo is generally more docile and larger than your regular domesticated cattle.

Farmers bred the beefalo because of beef production. The thicker animal was predicted to have more meat portions and produce more milk. And so they did.

The beefalo soon reproduced in large quantities, creating a setback for the North American bison, commonly known as the buffalo. Currently, it will be challenging to find a buffalo herd that is not yet genetically polluted with the domesticated cattle’s gene.

The Leopon

A male leopard and female lion mate to give birth to the leopon. Leopons are beautiful animals, with heads that resemble a lion and the spotted, graceful body of a leopard. However, they are considerably larger than leopards and do not occur naturally in the wild.

A leopon reportedly has a long lifespan. The first recorded leopon was bred in 1859 and was still alive in 1912 when it was fully described in R.I. Pocock’s — a British zoologist— writings.

The Savannah Cat

A serval is a medium-sized, large-eared wild African cat. When this species is bred with a domestic cat, the resulting offspring is called a savannah cat. Savannahs are known for their sociability with temperaments closer to that of a playful dog rather than a cat’s. They are also as loyal as dogs and quite cuddly. A pet savannah can be taught to play fetch and even walk on a leash.

The Geep

The geep is the last animal on our list because of how unique it is. Apart from being a crossbreed, the geep is a genetic chimera and not a genetic hybrid.

Typically, crossbreeds are bred from animals that belong to the same families or subfamilies. The geep is the only animal that is successfully bred from two entirely different classes. A sheep belongs to the genus Ovis, of the subfamily Caprinae of Bovidae; while a goat belongs to the genus Capra. Furthermore, the sheep have 54 chromosomes, and goats have 60.

Most geeps are stillborns, further indicating the genetic distance between its parents. Sightings are very rare, and most animals people refer to as geeps are actually sheep-goat chimeras, which are created artificially by combining the embryos of the animals.