A grizzly sits along the shore of the Bute Inlet in the Great Bear Rainforest. Credit: Brodie Guy

Researchers in British Columbia have discovered a remarkable crossover between cultural diversity and biological diversity. The region hosts three distinct genetic groups of grizzlies (Ursus arctos). It’s also home to three distinct Indigenous language families. Mapping the two, researchers found remarkable overlap between grizzly genetic groups and human language families. The research began as a genetics study, but after seeing a map of the region’s languages, the researchers “noticed the striking visual similarity,” Lauren Henson, lead author of the study published in Ecology and Society, told Science. Co-author Jenn Walkus, a Wuikinuxv scientist, said the findings aren’t surprising. Humans and bears both need food, space and other resources, so it makes sense that they would settle in the same areas, she said.

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