Teaching with Hybrids

Teaching WIth Hybrids

People have told stories of hybrid animals for thousands of years. Consider the ancient Egyptians. Ra, Set, and the other gods had the bodies of a human but the head of an animal. In ancient Greece, there were numerous hybrid animals. Pegasi, centaurs, and gorgons are but a few examples. Almost every culture has similar examples of hybrid animals, from fairies, sphinxes, and minotaurs to modern day stories of werewolves, Mothman, and mermaids. Because they have been used so often, teaching with hybrids provides a lot of opportunities for teachers.

One reason they are so popular is that they are fascinating. In reality, hybrid animals actually do exist, such as ligers and mules. For centuries, con artists have tried to trick people into believing more fantastic hybrid animals existed. The arrival of photoshopping and movie special effects created a resurgence of interest in hybrid animals. Now, students with no artistic abilities can use programs to create hybrid animals. One place they can do this is at  https://switchzoo.com/zoo.htm.

Background Building For Teaching with Hybrids

Most students will come to school with some basic background building already present. They receive this through various movies such as Splice or The Fly. At the very least, the students have been exposed to anthropomorphized cartoons such as Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny. Beast from X-Men, Killer Croc from Batman, and King Shark from Flash are more examples the students might recognize. If a student wants to make themselves into a hybrid, they can do so with websites such as http://www.buildyourwildself.com/.

Incorporating Other Subjects

Instead of using a computer program, a teacher can incorporate art by having the students actually draw the hybrids. Not to be left out, the teacher can even incorporate math by having the students estimate the percentage for each type of animal in a hybrid.

Science can easily be included, whether through the environment, the hybrid lives in or if they are carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores. This can be tied in with English by breaking down the vocabulary words using Latin and Greek roots.

Teaching with Hybrids in History

Since there is such a rich literary history of hybrid animals, it can easily be incorporated into a literacy program. Students can read stories from ancient Greece and Rome. They can read stories about Ammit an the animal-headed gods of Egypt or the fenghuang and qilin from China. There are even poems about hybrid animals. Scranimals by Prelusky is one such book. New stories are continuously being told, whether with H.G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau or the latest D&D adventure with owlbears or griffons. Every culture has examples of these hybrids, which means the teacher can bring make lessons multicultural very easily.

FIctional Hybrids

Centaur Chimera Egyptian Gods

(Ra, Set, Osiris)

Harpy Hippocampus Hippogriff Jackalope
Lamia Manticore Mermaid Medusa
Minotaur Mothman Naga Owlbear
Pegasus Sea-Lion Sphinx Unicorn

Real Hybrid Animals

Teachers can incorporate real hybrid animals as well. Ligers, mules, and zebroids are but a few examples of real hybrid animals that are alive today. This can easily be turned into a science lesson. Because there are many articles written about such animals, or even creating new hybrid animals, teachers can easily find material to use in their classroom.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/human-pig-hybrid-embryo-chimera-organs-health-science/ is one example in which scientists are trying to change a pig’s lungs into ones humans can use. While not appropriate for younger readers, it might stimulate an interest in the sciences for high school students.

Amazing Animals That Are Not Hybrids

If the teacher wants to branch out, real but strange animals can be introduced. Some of these include narwhals, blobfishes, platypuses, and tufted deer are a few amazing looking animals that students might believe are fake hybrids. Evolution, adaptation, environment, predator, prey, and other scientific terms can be introduced while teaching about hybrid and similar looking animals. One student assignment might be to research and then write a report about a real animal most people would believe is actually a photoshopped fake. If a student wants, they might even be allowed to trick the others by creating their own “fake” animal using already created images on the internet or by creating their own with a program.


Amazing Animals That Are Not Hybrids

Giant Anteater Axolotl Aye-Aye Blobfish
Cape Rain Frog Dumbo Octopus Echidna Gerenuk
Giraffe Weevil Glass Frog Japanese Spider Crab Lowland Streaked Tenrec
Mudskipper Narwhal Okapi Paddlefish
Pink Fairy Armadillo Duck-Billed Platypus Saiga Antelope Sea Dragon
Spinybacked Orb

Weaver Spider

Star Nosed Mole Tufted Deer Venezuelan Poodle Moth

Naming Hybrids With Latin and Greek Root Words

Latin and Greek root words can also be taught using hybrids. For example, “anthrop” meaning human, and “morph” meaning change means “making more human-like” is one such word. After that, the students can be given a few basic root words and be asked to create a name for a newly discovered hybrid-like animal. In fact, this could be extended to the students pretending to be the scientist. Then have the students make a hypothesis about the animal based on its appearance and environment.

An example might be if the students are given a picture of Pegasus, they might create a name for it by combining “avi,” meaning “bird” with “equ,” meaning “horse.” This makes the name “Equavi” which would be a horse-bird hybrid. If the students are not as advanced, they can always use simple names, such as an “owlbear.”

Share Your Ideas for Activities With Hybrid Animals

In conclusion, teachers can do amazing units with hybrid animals. What are some ideas of what I could have my students do? I want to know. Please comment below and share your ideas.