Genetic hybrids are the result of two animals of differing species mating to form a new species. Species from different parts of the world end up crossing paths for a variety of reasons. Whether it be due to invasive species colliding with locals, habitat destruction, or being placed in captivity, new hybrid species are formed that would not have existed otherwise. In many cases, they would never have existed without humans (for better or worse).
We’ve seen many bizarre animal hybrids in popular culture. In movies, we have Sharktopus and Dinocroc, and in folklore, we have jackalopes and Jersey Devils. But peculiar animal hybrids don’t just exist in the land of make-believe. While you won’t see anything quite like a shark with tentacles or a goat with bat wings, biological hybrids can be just as fascinating as fictional hybrids.
From lions crossed with tigers to zebras crossed with donkeys, these amazing real-life animal hybrids are sure to surprise you…
The leopon is the offspring of a male leopard and a lioness. The head looks similar to a lion, with a partial mane, while the body looks more leopard-like. These animals are only bred in zoos, and would never occur in the wild.
Many cubs have been bred in Japan and Germany, but it’s rare for them to survive to adulthood. If they do, the animals are generally sterile. The most successful breeding program was at Koshien Hanshin Park in Japan, where 5 cubs (though sterile) did survive for a period of time.
This bulky hybrid is a hybrid between domestic cattle and yak. These animals are larger and stronger than yak and cattle, at least those local to the region. They also seem to produce more milk and meat.
Males of this cross are sterile while females are still able to breed. “Dzo” particularly refers to males of this hybrid, while females are called “dzomo” or “zhgrolaom.”
Iron Age Pig or “Sanglochon”
This unique animal is a cross between a wild boar and a domestic pig. They were originally bred to resemble pigs represented in ancient European prehistoric artwork of the Iron Age.
These pigs are raised mainly in Europe, and are much more aggressive and harder to handle than domestic pigs, as one would imagine. This hybrid has been observed occurring naturally in Australia where escapee domestic pigs breed with wild boars.
As you may suspect, coywolves are a combination of coyotes and gray wolves. These hybrids tend to be larger than coyotes, and show behaviors similar to each species.
Extensive hunting of wolves over 4 centuries decimated the population; this limited the options for suitable mates, so the animals had to search outside their species. It appears that they weren’t too selective – researchers have found domestic dog DNA in their genome, too!
Clymene dolphins are another example of hybrid speciation. Endemic to the Atlantic Ocean, clymene dolphins are the result of breeding between spinner dolphins and striped dolphins.
Unlike most animal hybrids, which are the result of captive breeding, Clymene dolphins are natural hybrids. Humans have not played a role in their genesis, and they can breed normally.
In captivity, many bird hybrids exist, and the Catalina macaw is one of them. As a cross between a blue-and-yellow macaw and a scarlet macaw, the Catalina macaw possesses the color patterns of both parent species.
This beautiful parrot possesses the best qualities of both macaws. We like it!
The edible frog is one of three species of European water frog (along with Graf’s hybrid frog and the Italian edible frog) that is the result of a process called hybridogenesis. In this process, the hybrid species must mate with one of its parent species to reproduce, and half of the offspring are clones of the hybrid species.
In the case of the edible frog, which is the fertile offspring of a pool frog and a marsh frog, it must mate with either a pool frog or a marsh frog to produce more edible frogs.
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