Polar Bears Are Mating with Grizzly Bears in Alaska, Creating ‘Pizzly Bears’

by Keeli Parkey

Climate change has led to the creation of a new type of bear. Known as the “pizzly bear,” this species is a combination of a polar bear and a grizzly bear.

According to The New York Post, this new species of bear first came to the attention of scientists in 2006. It was during that year that it was spotted in the wild.

Due to climate change, polar bears are facing a crisis and their diet is changing. The ice on which they live is also melting.

The continuing warmer temperatures in their habitats are limiting where polar bears can live and their food supply. But, the new species might just be nature’s way of helping save the polar bear.

The article references Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. DeSantis is a paleontologist who said the pizzly bear “is more resilient to climate change and better suited for warmer temperatures.”

While the polar bear is famous for its white coat, the pizzly bear’s coat is off-white. The pizzly bear also has a long nose.

So, how did the pizzly bear come to be? According to the article, because their habitats were melting, polar bears started to move inland. In doing so, they encountered grizzly bears that were moving from Alaska further north.

In fact, the polar bear and the grizzly bear share a common ancestor. However, the two species began to separate themselves from one another hundreds of thousands of years ago.

How Could Pizzly Bears Adapt Better to Climate Change Than Polar Bears?

According to Vanderbilt’s Larisa DeSantis, polar bears survive on a very specific diet. This consists mostly of seals. This is a diet rich in blubber. However, due to climate change, it is becoming more and more difficult for polar bears to prey on seals for their diet. Also, the shape of a polar bear’s nose makes it difficult for them to adjust to a diet other than one centered around seals.

“It is not looking good for polar bears,” DeSantis also reportedly said.

Luckily, by mating with grizzly bears polar bears just might be able to survive on a diet made up of more than just seals. The jaws of grizzly bears are able to eat some plants and even devour carcasses when the need arises.

Also, in comparison to the polar bear, the pizzly bear has a wider range of territories where it can live thanks to its grizzly bear attributes. The article reports that grizzly bears can live from Alaska south to Wyoming. There have been pizzly bears spotted in Idaho. So, this is a good sign that the new species might be able to adapt more easily to a changing climate than polar bears. And, according to DeSantis, it is a necessary step.

“Only animals that were already generalized or able to adapt survived,” DeSantis said. “Specialists like the polar bear are at greater risk of extinction, especially if their habitat is literally melting away.”