Once upon a time, there was no such thing as Photoshop. Back then, if people wanted to smash two separate things together into an unholy mixture of art, science, and caprice, they had to hire a painter - and painters tended to be moody.
Those who couldn't put up with the moods turned to crossbreeding, with some freaky results. Take a look at ten animal hybrids.
10. The Blood Parrot
This one got on the list solely because it has an awesome name. It's a hybridization of two species of cichlid - the redheaded cichlid and the midas cichlid. The pairing turned out pretty much as well as anything midas-related. The blood parrot has a vertically opening mouth that it can't close entirely. It can't chew and has to crush its food in its throat. It also has deformed irises and a malfunctioning swim bladder which causes it to loop in random directions sometimes. Other than that, it's just an orange fish. In recent years, there's been a large movement to stop the breeding or selling of blood parrots, since they're prone to malnutrition, and there's no reason to breed them in the first place.
9. The Featherless Chicken
Now this looks like a blood parrot. This chicken it the result of intentional crossbreeding of a bare-necked chicken and a regular broiler chicken. It has no feathers, and is meant to make the processing of chicken on step faster, since it doesn't have to be plucked. It would also be an easy way to give atmosphere to a horror movie. It looks like something out of Silent Hill.
8. The Zubron
This was another animal that was created to try to make agriculture easier. At the end of the first World War, when everyone in Europe was starving and life was miserable, Polish farmers decided it was too much trouble to raise regular cattle. The cows succumbed to disease, they died in the cold, and they took a lot of herding. Farmers wanted cattle that could be left alone until someone decided to wander out into the field and slaughter them. Enter the Zubron. It was a cross between the domesticated cow and the Polish wisent, a horned animal also known as a zubr. The breeders ran into some hiccups in making these. The males of the first generation were sterile. The females, however, were fertile, and could be bred with cows or wisents, producing fertile males for the next generation. They were impervious to disease, cold, and many harsh conditions. Why aren't we eating Zubron right now? The females grow to 800 pounds. The males to 1200, with horns. You try to slaughter one. And after that, go after its American version, the beefalo.
7. The Toast of Botswana
This goat-sheep hybrid is unusual because its two parents have different numbers of chromosomes. Sheep have 54 and goats have sixty. This guy manages to have fifty-seven, in what has to be an admirable compromise. It's resistant to sickness, and scientists are studying its parents to figure out how hybridization works, especially during pregnancy. Although goats and sheep often share the same spaces and interbreed, not many of the offspring are born alive. I'd love to see people actually toasting this. "Here's to you, Whatever You Are! Way to live!"
6. The Wholphin
This is actually a cheat on the part of publicity-seekers. The wholphin isn't really a whale-dolphin mix. It's a mix of two species of dolphin, one of which is a known as a 'false killer whale'. The wholphin has the black markings and size of a false killer whale and the otherwise grey skin of a dolphin. But that's just the tip of the ice berg. It seems the sea is just a big salty orgy. Bottlenose dolphins have been known to interbreed with spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, Risso's dolphins, and pretty much any other dolphin they can get their fins on. Narwals and beluga whales have been said to interbreed. Some even say that blue whales, fin whales and humpback whales hybridize. It's sick under the waves.
5. The Cama
The camel and llama; when you want your pack animal to be able to spit a really long way. This creature is meant to have the long legs of a camel with the warm coat of llama - but it comes with a number of quirks. It only works if a male camel knocks up a female llama. Its ears are half way between the size of a camel's and a llama's. And it has the world's only partially-cloven hoof, meaning it is partly devilish. There are only a few in the world, as success in interbreeding the two animals has been spotty. Well. Would you kiss something with those teeth?
4. The Coywolf
This is an example of humanity screwing itself over. Due to reduced habitat, the coyote and the wolf have been brought into close quarters. Coyotes are small and solitary, but aren't particularly scared of humans. Wolves are larger, but don't tend to sidle up to humanity. The combination is quite large, and doesn't tend to be scared of people, what with its full complement of sly wits and huge teeth and long legs.
3. The Ursids
Everyone knows about the grolar bear - the polar/grizzly mix that needs more meat to live and will eventually kill us all. But there have been plenty of bear crossovers over the years. There are plenty of brown and black bear hybrids running around the US. There have also been hybrids at several zoos, including a Malayan Sun bear and a sloth bear, a sloth bear and an Asiatic black bear, a black bear and a spectacled bear, and a black bear and a sun bear. As long as their partner can open a human's skull with a quick flip of its claws, they aren't picky. It's like they think they're in the ocean.
2. The Zebroids
Zorse, zonkey, zony, zebrass; these are all the things that happen when a zebra is put together with various kinds of horses. They come out looking every possible way. Some have zebra-like manes and striped legs. Some have pony bodies with faint stripes. Some are brown horses with white zebra stripes. Some are horses with black zebra stripes. Some look like someone threw a bucket of white paint at a zebra. It may be wrong to mess with nature, but it's an incredible image, sometimes.
1. The Cats
This is what happens when you give cat lovers power. They start going nuts with it. There's the savannah cat, which is a mix of domestic cat and the wild African serval, making a pet that is both better equipped and more inclined to rip one of its owners ears off than any cat before it. There's the liguar, which was a lion's head on a jaguar's body. After that it's not even about looks anymore - its about language. The names made up for these species sound like a Lewis Carroll nonsense poem, and over generations the words get ever more entangled until there are things called leoliguards and lijaguleps. King of the big cats is the liger, a lion father and tiger mother bred together in a way that enhances both species' gene expression for size, resulting in a cat that's about ten feet tall and nearly a half a ton in weight. The only other cat that can compare is part of the fossil record. The liger harkens back to the days of megafauna. It wouldn't even consider a human a snack. . . I want one. And also a zony.
Blood Parrot Image via Fanghong