So, Jonni and I were reading about Mary and Joseph riding to Bethlehem on a donkey a while back, as a bedtime story and she asked me what a donkey was.
Like a small, bitty little horse with big ears and a temper, I explained. Then I couldn't help explaining about how a mule was an animal with a horse for a mommy and an ass for a daddy, and that lead quickly to Zorses (Zebra dad, horse mom) and Hebras (the opposite) and then Zonkeys and from there onto Ligers (Lion dad, Tiger mom) and Tions and Wholphins(half whale half dolphin) and Beefalos (half cow half buffalo) and on and on and on. She was interested and thought some of the names for these types of animals were hilarious. (And they are, too).
All these animal combos I mentioned are things that can and have actually occurred. Not too long ago some hunters shot a bear that turned out to be half Polar bear half Grizzly. Talk about a scary beast. They call it a Grolar bear, which by convention assumes a male grizzly bear parent and a female polar bear parent. I suppose if it was the other way around you'd call it a Pizzly bear and that just cracks me up to no end.
I've seen a real live liger cub in person. So ha ha ha ha. It looked just like a tiger to me.
Ligers (lion dad and tiger mom) are one type of combo that have an effect called "Hybrid vigor" which means simply that Ligers can get much larger (like half again as big) as either a plain lion or tiger can get. Oddly it seems that the other way around- a tion- (tiger dad, lion mom) tend to have the opposite effect and wind up smaller than either parent. I don't know if the Grolar bears have hybrid vigor, but if they do WHOOOOO DOGGIES! what a demon of a bear that would make.
I've heard scientific speculation that it might be possible to have a successful elephant/Woolly Mammoth cross. Now that could be pretty neato. Here's how it'd work: You'd first have to find a frozen male mammoth, probably n Siberia. That wouldn't be too hard. Its estimated that there are ... well memory fails to come up with the exact stat but definitely thousands, possibly millions of frozen mammoths in Siberia. And they tend to be well preserved. I heard once of a restaurant that one night as a novelty served 10,000 year old mammoth meat. So - you have to find a male mammoth with some viable mammoth sperm frozen inside him. Not impossible. You find a healthy female modern elephant, do A.I. and wait for however long elephants gestate for and you have an animal with a 10,000 year extinct father. A Mammophant. Would be pretty dern cool if you ask me.
Another thing that I find interesting is that these cross-breed animals are not always sterile. There have been Li-ligers, (lion dad, liger mom) and Ti-ligers, etc etc. Usually male crossbreeds are sterile but often the females are not.
I also wonder what it would be like to be a lion or a grizzly bear or a whale or a donkey and to find yourself romantically attracted to somebody from another species. How weird must that be? Are lions and tigers actually the same species, but just very different breeds/races within the species- like a poodle and a doberman? I doubt it, but maybe?
I suppose maybe Homo Neanderthal, and Homo Erectus (who names these things by the way?!) and all the other Homos might have been to us something like a Polar bear must be to a grizzly. Some speculate that a Human/Chimpanzee cross might be possible- a Humanzee they'd call it- I personally doubt that. But it raises some questions that I find very interesting. Such a cross would, I think, be unethical- It would at the least amount to deliberately inflicting severe mental handicaps on an unborn child. But I'd sure like to know if it was possible, cause it would answer a lot of questions about humanity's identity as a species.
Well this has been an odd little babbling session. I wonder about this stuff though. Thanks for laughing with me at me.