A young hunter who bagged his first bear in northern Canada this month wasn't entirely sure what he'd shot – but he thought it looked like a combination of a polar bear and a grizzly bear.
Dave Garshelis, a bear researcher with the Minnesota DNR, tells the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that's indeed what it was and adds that those hybrid bears are becoming more common.
Garshelis says grizzly and polar bears are genetically similar and interbreeding between them is not new. It's just happening more often, he says, because climate change has led grizzlies to move further north into polar bear country.
He explained to the CBC that a hybrid is known as a grolar bear when the sire (the dad) is a grizzly and is called a pizzly when the sire is a polar bear.
Chris Servheen, who studies grizzly bears at the University of Montana, tells The Guardian another reason for the species' overlapping ranges is that polar bears are spending more time on land as arctic ice floes disappear.
Polar bears evolved from brown bears about 150,000 years ago, The Guardian says. Servheen tells the paper that even with hybrids becoming more common, it would likely take hundreds of generations before a new type of bear evolved from grizzlies and polar bears.
A few years ago a segment on the Sci Show took a look at the grolar bear.