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Biology, Strange

A Hebra: Horse Zebra Hybrid

Are they real, horse-zebra hybrids? Many believe that two animals with different chromosome numbers cannot produce any offspring, yet here is a living hebra.

A horse has 64 chromosomes compared to our 46 and the horse karyotype looks like this:

A karyotype is the number and appearance of chromosomes in the nucleus of an eukaryotic cell. The term is also used for the complete set of chromosomes in a species or in an individual organism

– Wikipedia

The zebra has between 32 and 46 (depending on species)

I haven’t found good images of zebra karyotypes, but will add them here if I do. It will be interesting to compare to the horse.

Zebras are considered to have been the second species to diverge from the earliest proto-horses, after the asses, around 4 million years ago.


Even with a four million year evolutionary gap, nature sometimes finds a way.

What makes hebras, zorses, zonkeys, and so on extra interesting is the fact that we who call ourselves modern humans are all genetic hybrids with neanderthal man and/or other extinct human species. Here’s what genetics tells is about our hybrid ancestry:

There is evidence for interbreeding between archaic and modern humans during the Middle Paleolithic and early Upper Paleolithic. The interbreeding happened in several independent events that included Neanderthals, Denisovans, as well as several unidentified hominins.

In Eurasia, interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans with modern humans took place several times between about 100,000 and 40,000 years ago, both before and after the recent out-of-Africa migration 70,000 years ago. 


Know thyself, they say, and knowing where you come from is a good start.


About Xeno

E pluribus unum.


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