Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Some Hybrid Animal Math

An animal of one species plus one of another species usually results in two animals wondering why they were confined to the same enclosed area. Or, you know, lunch. But as our friend the zedonk has taught us, some species can interbreed, creating hybrid offspring that are often tragically infertile but always adorably named.

Beefalo (domestic cattle + American bison)

Yakow (a.k.a. dzo or zho; domestic cattle + yak)

Yakalo (a.k.a. alternative bison; yak + American bison)

EDIT: A reader has informed me that the animal pictured here is not a yakalo but a Himalayan ovine called the takin. There is a photo of a yakalo in this Modern Farmer piece, however.

Zubron (domestic cattle + wisent, the European bison known in Polish as ┼╝ubr)

Note: Zubron beat out hundreds of other choices in a Polish contest to name this creature in 1969. I love learning about other countries’ national pastimes.

Geep (sheep + goat)

Note: A sheep-goat hybrid can also be called a shoat, but let’s not since that word already refers to a baby pig. We don’t want to throw a third animal into this mess.

Cama (camel + llama)

Note: The resemblance to cama, the Spanish word for “bed,” is entirely coincidental, as these hybrid beasts of burden are used not for sleeping but instead more as one might use a loveseat.

Huarizo (male llama + female alpaca)

Note: I would have called it a alallamapacala.

Coydog (male coyote + female dog)

Note: The product of love between a male dog and a female coyote, however, would be a dogote. I’m perplexed about animals that take their names regardless of the gender of their parents, as opposed to animals like this one whose parents’ genders seem to dictate its name. A coyote-wolf hybrids seem to be called a coywolf in all instances — a pity, since wolfote is fun to say. Also, dog-wolf hybrids are known variously as the Kunming Wolfdog, the Saarlooswolfhond and other names, but tragically never as the dolf or the wog.

Wholphin (whale + dolphin)

Note: Thank Dave Eggers for making you know this.

Mule (male donkey + female horse) and hinny (male horse + female donkey)

Note: Pictured here are hinnies. Because god dammit you should have seen a mule by this point in your life.

Yet even more zebroid madness:
Donkra (male donkey + female zebra)
Zorse or Zebrule (male zebra + female horse)
Zony (male zebra + female pony)
Zetland (male zebra + female Shetland)
Zebrass (male zebra + any female ass)
Zebret or Zebrinny (female zebra + male donkey)
Hebra or Horbra (female zebra + male horse)

Note: A peculiarly high number of names exist for zebra hybrids. I can only assume that zebras are the most sex-positive members of the equine family.

Wallaroo (wallaby + kangaroo)

Note: The casual observer would have difficulty in differentiating the kangaroo-wallaby offspring from mere smallish kangaroos and largish wallabies. Veterans of the Australian outback, however, can spot the hybrids easily, as wallaroos tend to spend their day seeing how many small rocks they can stuff in their pouches and then try to show off to their full-blooded counterparts.

Blynx (lynx + bobcat)

Note: Pictured feline is not a blynx. I could not find any pictures clearly marked as being of bobcat-lynx hybrids, so Pretty Kitty is subbing in. But isn’t Pretty Kitty pretty? Yes him is! Yes him is!

Caraval (female serval + male caracal)

Note: After much searching, I found the above image, which I understand to depict a typical caraval, known worldwide for its elaborate parades and buxom dancers. The offspring of a male serval and a female caracal would be a servical. Whereas caravals are celebrated by many South Americans on the last day before Lent, servicals are celebrated by Ecuadorians twelve days after Christmas, on the day known to Catholics as Epiphany.

Pumapard (puma + leopard)

Note: Is fun to say! This particular pumapard, however, is sad to look at.

Note: If zebras are harlots, making stripey babies with any member of the equine world that trots their way and offers them a sugar cube, then the Panthera genus is a sort of megafeline swinger party. Wikipedia lays out the various combinations that can result from the mating of lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards and notes the names of each. (Personal favorites: Leopon, Leguar and the puzzling Dogla.) No pictures needed. They all look about the same — like cats, but bigger. Read about them at your local Wikipedia!

The Grizzly-polar hybrid bear (a.k.a. the Pizzly or the Grolar)

Note: Is last because the best picture I could find depicts a dead pizzly. Whamp-whamp.

Now that you know some of the more famous mammal hybrids, can you make your own new crimes against nature? Let your imagination run wild! But please — show your work.


  1. Philip4:22 PM

    Given how useful I find your blog as a source of obscure words which I will probably never manage to shoehorn into a conversation, I feel obliged to point out a possible misinterpretation here. Wallaroos are not actually hybrids between wallabies and kangaroos, but members of a group of species which are intermediate in size between the two. A cross between a kangaroo and a wallaby in terms of appearance, but not genetic background, if you will.

    Also, the picture you have for the yakalo looks a lot like a takin, an obscure Himalayan cow/goat/antelope thing which is apparently the national animal of Bhutan (I didn't know that last bit until this evening).

    There is another, very poor quality, picture here which looks rather different but is also believable as a yak/bison cross.

    And to excuse the nitpicking, I have tracked down a(nother) picture of a caraval:

    I couldn't bring myself to google for a servical in case I found an illiterate's guide to gynaecology.

  2. When the idea for the beefalo was concieved (see what I did there?) the hope was that it would have the hardiness and meat-carrying capacity of the buffalo, and the tracability and marbling of domestic cattle. The folks who work with them quickly discovered that instead they got an animal as mean as a buffalo and as stupid as a cow.

  3. I think the reason breeding zebras with other animals is so popular might have something to do with their being more resistant to disease than tame equines. But maybe people just like the stripes.

    Doesn't Vanilla Ice have a wallaroo?

  4. Philip: I shall correct the error. Thanks for the clarification.

    Sinful: Wait, is this true?

    "Prince": Actually, dolphins and whales being cetaceans has no bearing on this post, as I'm concerned only with animals crossbreeding on the species level.

    Nathan: Wait, I don't get the Vanilla Ice joke. Is this a race thing?

  5. No, Vanilla Ice apparently actually had a wallaroo.

  6. Anonymous5:37 PM

    You're GAS! particularly the Pretty kitty subbing in! Had me in stitches!

    PS. Hope you're information is correct because I'm on teaching practice tomorrow & i'm teaching them all about this stuff! =)

  7. The caraval stuff may not be accurate.

  8. Anonymous3:31 PM

    Re Pizzly / Grolar : Genetically, Polar Bears developed from Grizzly stock a few aeons ago, so a hybrid wouldn't be that exciting --either way you'd get a big, grumpy, brownish or whitish predator. What would be interesting would be a cross between the Grizzly (biggest breed of) bear and a Malyasian Sun (smallest breed of) bear, which as an adult weighs less than 100 lbs.

    I actually saw a photo of the offspring of a male Chiwawa and a female great dane--it was smallish to medium size mongrel, and had an embarassed, woebegone expression. If you looked at it, you could guess exactly what it was. I was told that the male needed assistance, (no suprise there) to produce this ugly hybrid, and the result was pretty depressing.

  9. Anonymous7:05 PM

    Please note, the picture of your Yakalo is actually a Takin.

  10. alallamapacala... yup, that should have been a name!!