You probably didn’t know some of these bizarre hybrid animals even existed — but you do now.
Ligers, Tigon, and Zebroids are just a few of the many insane combinations that result when animals breed both naturally and by human meddling.
Thank you, internet. The list of hybrid animals is actually pretty extensive. Their existence is hard to believe, and their genetic makeup is truly remarkable. How they’re named depends on various factors including their sex and their parent’s species.
For example, the first half of their name usually comes from their father and the second half from their mother. A Liger is probably the most recognizable hybrid out there and the most famous.
But there are also some other really cool breeds out there you probably didn’t know existed.
Ligers are the offspring of male lions and female tigers. While there are legends of Ligers prowling the wilds, they currently only exist in captivity, where they are deliberately bred.
There is a myth that Ligers never stop growing their entire lives, which is untrue. They just grow to freakish sizes in their normal growth window. Ligers are the largest cat in the world. Hercules, the biggest individual Liger, weighed 922 pounds.
When a male tiger and a female lion mate, the tigon is the result. It used to be believed that tigons were smaller than their parent species, but they can grow just as large. They are, however, smaller than ligers.
Both ligers and tigons are capable of producing their own offspring, leading to confusingly-named hybrids such as titigons and liligers.
A Zebroid is a cross between a zebra and any other equine. Zebroids have been around for a long time – they were even mentioned in some of Darwin’s writings. They tend to be male and to have the physiology of the non-zebra parent, with zebra stripes adorning parts of their body. Zebroids are more wild than domestic, are hard to tame, and are more aggressive than horses.
Coyotes are very genetically close to red and eastern wolves, with whom they diverged only about 150-300,000 years ago. Interbreeding between them is not only possible, but becoming more common as wolf populations rebound.
Coyotes are not, however, very compatible with gray wolves, which have about 1-2 million years of genetic estrangement separating them. Some hybrids do exist, though they are rare There are a number of different coywolf hybrids, and their populations dot North America. Generally, they are larger than coyotes but smaller than wolves, and share behavioral characteristics of both species.
Grolar bears, also called “pizzly bears” by the less charitable, are a cross between polar and brown bears. Their natural ranges rarely, if ever, overlap, and most grolar bears live in zoos. However, there have been a handful of confirmed sightings in the wild. In 2006, an Alaskan hunter shot one.
They look pretty much like an even split between polar and grizzly bears. Behaviorally, they are closer to polar bears than to browns.
This uncommon but awesome breed of housecat is a cross between a domestic cat and a Serval, a kind of wild cat that lives in Africa. They are exceptionally large and behave remarkably like dogs, following their owners around the house, wagging their tails to express pleasure, and even playing catch. Savannahs also do not fear water, and will invite themselves into the shower with you. Unfortunately, they are extremely expensive.
When a male false killer whale and a female bottlenose dolphin love each other very much, they produce a wolphin. “Wolphin” is a portmanteau of “whale” and “dolphin,” which is misleading. False killer whales are actually not a whale, and are in the same family as dolphins.
Nevertheless, they are extremely rare. They are occasionally spotted in the wild, and there is currently only one individual in captivity.
Beefalo are crosses between buffalo and cows. They’ve been around since the 1800s, when they were called “cattalo.” Beefalo are heartier than cattle, and do less ecological damage to the prairies they graze on. However, beefalo breeding has led to conservation problems for wild bison. It is now estimated that only four total herds still exist that are not polluted by cow genes.
Hinnies are basically reverse mules. A mule is a product of a male donkey and a female horse, and a hinny is a product of a male horse and a female donkey. Their heads look like horse heads, and they are slightly smaller than mules. They’re also much less common.
Narwhals and Belugas are the only two members of the monodontidae family of whales, so it should be no surprise that they are able to crossbreed. However, they are extraordinarily rare. Sightings have been increasing in the Northern Atlantic recently, which some researchers consider a warning sign of climate change.
Camas did not exist until 1998. Some mad scientist at the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai decided to cross a male dromedary camel with a female lama via artificial insemination, and out popped the first Cama. The intention was to breed them to produce fur that could be clipped and sold, and to serve as a pack animal. To date, only five have ever been produced.
The dzo (male) and dzomo (female) are hybrids between domestic cows and wild yaks. They exist mostly in Tibet and Mongolia, where they are prized for their high yield of meat and milk. They are larger and stronger than both cows and yaks, and are used as beasts of burden.
The lines can blur – it is believed that most yaks and cows in the region now carry at least some of the others genetic imprint.
If a male leopard is intrepid enough to mate with a female lion, a Leopon is the result. It’s almost impossible for this combination to occur in the wild, and every known Leopon has been the product of breeding in captivity. Leopons appear to have the head and mane of a lion, and the body of a leopard.
Goats and sheep appear to be very similar, but they are more different than you might suspect. Natural hybrids between the two animals are typically stillborn, and if they aren’t, occur extremely rarely. An animal called a “sheep-goat chimera” has also been produced by artificially combining goat and sheep embryos.
A Jaglion is the offspring of a male jaguar and a female lion, and are very rare. The two pictured above were the result of a close friendship between a jaguar named Diablo and a lioness named Lola, who were bosom buddies at Ontario’s Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary. They’re named Jahzara (left) and Tsunami (right).
The Mulard is a cross between a mallard and a muscovy duck. The muscovy duck is native to South and Central America, and is easily recognized by its bright red Darth Maul face. Mulards are bred for food, and are unable to produce offspring of their own
The żubroń is a cross between a domestic cow and a European bison (also called a “wisent”). They are, in many ways, superior to the domestic cow, as they are stronger and more resistant to disease. They were thought to be a possible replacement for cattle, but now only exist in one small herd in the Bialowieski National Park in Poland.
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