Two Bears You Have Probably Never Heard Of


By Maren Stuber 


The animal kingdom. Making up about 0.4% of life on earth. Animals are widely understood and educated as we share our planet with them. Though some peculiar bears, in particular, are quite extraordinary without any recognition. Two bears you have probably never heard of are the Tardigrade, or water bear, and the Pizzly bear. Today is your lucky day as you can gain some insight into these peculiar creatures. 


First, the Tardigrade, meaning slow stepper. Also known as the water bear or moss piglets. But don’t let these creatures’ names confuse you, these are eight-legged, barrel-shaped micro animals with four pairs of legs that generally range from 0.3 mm to 0.5 mm in size. Tardigrades also can live in many different climates.


Tardigrades prefer moist environments but can also be found in mountaintops, the deep sea, tropical rainforests, and even the Antarctic. These little creatures’ superpowers can survive in diverse atmospheres. They can survive extreme temperatures, extreme pressures, air deprivation, radiation, dehydration and starvation. Water bears are one of the few species that can purposely lower their metabolism to sustain food and water. This skill enables them to go without food or water for thirty years. Tardigrades mostly eat plant cells and algae but also microscopic animals if given a chance. 


One of the most mind-baffling things the water bear has survived is outer space! What can these little creatures not survive? In 2007, the FOTON-M3 took water bears into low earth orbit. Exposure to UV radiation, air deprivation and the vacuum of space nearly all survived. Proving their significance Tardigrades are proven to be a useful animal for space research. 


Water bears have conquered all the elements but they have also conquered Hollywood. You may not have realized it but if you have seen the marvel film Ant-Man and the Wasp then you have seen this incredible creature. When Scott Lang disappears into the quantum realm he is riding a water bear.


Clearly, these little creatures have made some impressive feats and are fascinating to study. Scientists have tried to understand these diverse creatures for many years and will continue to do so for many years to come. The Tardigrade species are one of the most interesting creatures but also one of the most valuable creatures to study and learn from. 


Finally, the last bear we will be doing a deep dive into is the Pizzly bear or the grizzly-polar bear hybrid. These creatures can also be referred to as the Grolar Bear, the Zebra Bear, and the Grizzlar. This is a rare bread that has happened both in the wild and in captivity. Though this occurrence happening in the wild does not seem to be only by coincidence.

Research has shown that climate change has melted a lot of the ice polar bears use as a home and a place to fish. Without a place to get food, they are forced to branch out from their normal habitats. By finding new places to get food polar bears are starting to have more contact with grizzly bears and sometimes this creates our new friends the pizzly bear. 


You may be asking how we know that these so-called bears exist if they are so rare. The answer all started in 2006. Andrew Derocher was in the field when he got a report that a strange-looking polar bear had been shot nearby. After running some DNA tests on this animal the scientists found this was the first pizzly bear found in the wild. 


These creatures are believed to become more and more common as the Artic ice continues to melt, depriving polar bears of their at-home hunting grounds in the ice. This may force them to hunt on land more often making this new species a common bear we may see on a hike. 


The characteristics of these new bears have similarities to both the grizzly and the polar bear. Two cubs bread in the Osnabruck Zoo were studied for their physical traits compared to their parents. Both cubs were smaller than polar bears but bigger than grizzly bears. Their heads were both the broader shape of a grizzly bear. They had leaner necks like polar bears and small shoulder humps like grizzlies. 


Both these bears are extraordinary creatures with valuable skills and traits that are unique. Both species have seemed to complete the impossible, going to space and mixing DNA. These are both extraordinary creatures that will continue to be studied and appreciated for many times to come.