A New Natural Hybrid Animal was Discovered in Brazil
Nature is a bit like a mad scientist with a passion for mixing and matching and trial and error. One look at evolution shows this perfectly. All species change over time. Combinations of traits, whether physical or incorporeal, are tweaked with every new generation. All with the same goal of finding the best combination to encourage survival. Still, there is a method to Nature’s madness. Take hybridization, for instance, which is one of Nature’s favorite experiments.
As we well know, we can’t simply choose two random species and combine them to make a new hybrid species. But that’s not to say it never works. In some cases, like, say, when two species are close enough genetically, they can create a brand-new species in the offspring. Hybridization is everywhere and can be seen in plants and animals alike. In fact, experts recently discovered a new hybrid animal, one that scientists didn’t think could exist.
I’m sure you know, but hybridization happens when two species mate and produce offspring that have genetics from both species. Usually, animals only mate within their own species, but sometimes, an animal will mate beyond their own kind.
Whether or not two animals from different species produce viable offspring after mating depends on the differences in the number of chromosomes each species has.
Chromosomes are the structures DNA is packaged inside within a cell’s nucleus, and they usually make species genetically incompatible. But sometimes, two species will be close enough chromosomally to produce offspring — it happens more often than you might think. In fact, research estimates that about 10 percent of animals and 25 percent of plants have been influenced by interbreeding. National Geographic explains:
The more closely related (and thus genetically alike) two species are, the higher the chance of successful hybridisation. For example, dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and grey wolves (Canis lupus) only diverged between 11,000 and 35,000 years ago. Wolf-dog hybrids are relatively common because their genetics, reproductive anatomy and behaviour are still fairly similar.