The word ‘hybrid’ originated from Latin ‘hybrida’ meaning ‘a crossbred animal.’ Currently, ‘hybrid’ means ‘an offspring of two animals or plants or plants of different varieties or species produced by human planning.’ Human beings have experimented with almost all kinds of animals and plants. Not excluding the others, a few of the more famous hybrids include: Equids which are crossbreeds of a horse and donkey; Zebroids, which include zeedonk, zorse and zony being the cross between a zebra and a donkey, zebra and a horse, and zebra and a pony respectively. Hybrids had been mentioned in literature as in Shakespeare’s masterpiece The Winter’s Tale. In Act IV, scene IV, a sheep shearing festival, Perdita argues with Polixenes that the gardener’s skill of grafting is a natural art;
Of trembling winter, the fairest
flowers o’ the season
Are our carnations and streak’d gillyvors,
Which some call nature’s bastards: of that kind
Our rustic garden’s barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race: this is an art.’
1. Felid Hybrid; Liger
Felid hybrids are crossbreeds which emerged from intra- and inter-specific crossbreeds involving most of the cats including: Lion, Bengal Tiger, Siberian Tiger, African cat, domestic cat, Bobcat, and Leopard. Ligers and Tiglons are crosses between the tiger and the lion. Liger is a hybrid between a male lion and a tigress while Tiglons are a cross between a male tiger and a lioness. Ligers are huge creatures larger than either of the parents. Tiglons, on the other hand, share the traits of both the parents though remains normal in size. Ligers are the largest cats on Earth and weigh about 900 pounds and are 12 feet long. They are almost double the size of a lion or a tiger. Unlike a lion and more like a tiger, the Liger likes to swim but is more sociable like a lion. Ligers are not found in nature and exist only in captivity.
2. Bovid Hybrid; Beefalo
Bovid hybrids are crosses between cows, bulls, yaks and bisons. Beefalo is the cross between a domestic cow and an American bison. It shares the traits of both the parents and, like many other hybrids, is not found in nature but exists as domesticated cattle. The Beefalo was intentionally developed to benefit from the characteristics of both parents in order to get more beef of better quality. According to the USDA, Beefalo meat resembles bison meat which is lower in fat and cholesterol. A cross between domestic cattle and the European bison produces the Zubron, while a cross between the yak and a cow is known as a Yakow.
3. Equid Hybrid; Mule
Equid hybrids are crosses between horses, zebras, and donkeys. A mule is a cross between a female horse and a male donkey. Mules are powerful like horses and tough like donkeys; therefore, they are of special importance to the Army. They are mostly used to carry canons on the mountainous regions of strategic importance. Male mules are sterile while female mules are fertile when crossed with a male donkey. Donkeys have 62 chromosomes and horses have 64 chromosomes while mules and hinnies have 63 chromosomes which cause difficulty in pairing during meiosis or the cell division. This is why a mule is sterile. A hinny is a cross between a female donkey and a male horse.
4. Zebroid; Zeedonk
A Zebroid is a hybrid between a zebra and any other equine like a horse, donkey, mule, or hinnies. A cross between a zebra and a mule is called a zebra mule, and a cross between a male donkey and female zebra is known as a zebra hinny. Zeedonk is an Equid hybrid and is a cross between a zebra and a donkey. A zorse is a cross between a male zebra and a female horse. Like many other animal hybrids, a zorse is sterile. Charles Darwin has mentioned many zebra hybrids in his studies. A cross between a male zebra and female pony is called a zony which usually tends to be dwarfish.
5. The Red Wolf
The Red Wolf is a cross between grey wolf and a coyote. Unlike many other animal hybrids that are manipulated by human beings, the Red Wolf is a natural cross and existed in nature since long ago. Its historical habitats have been swamps, forests, and prairies where it had been the main predator. In the 1970s, the Red Wolf was considered to be on the verge of extinction in nature, and in 1980, it was considered extinct. However, its reintroduction in North Carolina’s natural habitats in 1987 yielded positive results, and Red Wolves are now considered to be successfully breeding in the wild supported by a captive breeding program.
6. Canid Hybrid; Wolfdog
A Wolfdog is a canid hybrid which includes the offspring from a cross between a grey wolf and a dog. Since the dog itself had been categorized as a wolf sub-species in 1993, many zoologists refer to such breeds as a wolfdog hybrid. America has more than 300,000 wolfdogs. In the first generation hybrids, the grey wolf is mostly crossed with German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Alaskan Malamutes. The United States Department of Agriculture and the American Veterinary Medical Association also refer to these breeds as wolfdogs. Any dog having a wolf heritage within five generations is considered a wolfdog by the rescue groups and some other organizations. Wolf dogs are the most popular hybrid animals.
7. Avian Hybrid; Guineafowl Hybrid
Avian hybrids comprise a large number of bird hybrids, and they include: caged bird hybrids like the cross between a Goldfinch and Canary Finches as well as game bird hybrids like crosses between domestic fowl, chickens, guinea fowl and Lovebirds. These crosses are also known as aviculture. Macaw birds are also crossed with Lovebird hybrids. Natural hybridization occurs among gulls. A.P. Gray in her book Bird Hybrids has listed many crosses between domestic chickens and other fowls. Chickens have been successfully crossed with Green Junglefowl, Red Junglefowl, and Silver pheasants. Domestic chicken has been crossed with guinea fowl, the common pheasant, and quail.
8. Sheep’“goat hybrid
Sheep and goats may look similar in many aspects, but they are genetically very distant animals. Sheep belongs to the genus Ovis having 54 chromosomes, while goats belong to the genus Capra having 64 Chromosomes. It is, therefore, that in spite of grazing together since centuries they have produced no hybrids in nature. A natural cross between a sheep and a goat ends up with a stillbirth. At Botswana Ministry of Agriculture, a female goat became pregnant with a male sheep giving birth to a live hybrid having 54 chromosomes. This is an average of the sheep and goat chromosomes. It had a coarse outer and woolly inner coat. It had long legs like a goat and a fat body like a sheep.
Grapefruit is a hybrid resulting from cross between a pomelo and Jamaican orange. As a hybrid it first appeared in the 18th century. Its various cultivars have different pulp colors and sweetnesses. It was originally called the Forbidden Fruit. In 1929, the red blush variety received a U.S. patent as a Ruby Red Grapefruit. The grapefruit tree is an evergreen tree with dark, green leaves and four-petaled flowers. Its average height is about six meters. The outer peel of the grapefruit color is orange-yellow. There are very few, desirable, bitter foods, and grapefruit is one of them having a unique combination of a sweet sour and bitter flavor. Shredded and candied grapefruit peel is traditionally used in the production of Old English marmalade appreciated for its unique, bitter taste.
Peppermint is a result of spearmint and a water mint hybridization.The hybrid is found in nature. It was indigenous to Europe but is cultivated in all parts of the world now. The famous botanist Carlous Linnaeus collected the samples of this plant from England in 1753 and described it as a species. It is, however, considered a hybrid now. Its leaves are rich in a menthol flavor which is combined with different flavors to create some unique food products, especially in hard-boiled confectionery products and herbal teas.
Historically, tampering too much with nature had never been to the benefit of mankind. Whereas hybridization involves a natural means, recent advances in genetic engineering seem to be rather too much of meddling with nature. Genetic modifications are different from hybridization in that the former involves the addition of genes or genetic material. Not only genetic modification but also uncontrolled hybridization may be harmful. In an effort to develop more friendly and manageable bees, European honey bees and African bees were crossed, and astonishingly the result was production of a far more aggressive insect called Killer Bees!