Thanks to melting Arctic ice caps, polar and grizzly bears are being forced to cohabitate — and mate — outside their indigenous zones. The results are half-brown, half-white bears that have been spotted in the Arctic. Being bears, this new hybrid species can't help but look pretty cute to humans, but their cross-breeding symbolizes a darker reality: As mutated animals, they are most likely sterile. And, if this trend continues, it could eventually lead their origin species towards extinction. Polar and grizzly bears rank on Nature's list of the top 34 Arctic species most susceptible to crossbreeding. Others include bowhead whales (breeding with right whales), belugas pairing off with narwhals (known for their long tusks), and numerous new seal varieties. This isn't a game of Pokemon, but curious minds can't help but hypothesize what other mutant critters might look like.
Business Insider hired artist Nickolay Lamm to draw up some speculative digital illustrations. As we expected, the results are pretty endearing, but alarming in their implications just the same. Though we just learned that 2013's cold temperatures meant that the ongoing Arctic sea ice melt actually slowed this summer, the long-term prospects are still pretty bleak, according to NASA. Below, we've included the simulated po-grizzle bear cub (our term), but we recommend checking out the other possible crossbreeds, too. Sorry, there are still no Ligers. [Business Insider]