#2. Camas: Smaller, Furrier, Friendlier Camels
Friendlier and woollier than a camel but stronger and hardier than a llama, the cama is what we got when researchers at Dubai's Camel Reproduction Center were bored one day. In other news, there is an actual institution called the Camel Reproduction Center.
Presumably tired of all the camel-on-camel action, the experts at the center were curious to see whether two species that had evolved separately for 30 million years could still reproduce. Of course, they couldn't just put a llama and a camel in the same pen and blast out some Barry White, because the mother was set to be a 150-pound llama and the father, well, he was roughly six times her size.
Use your imagination.
After some no doubt awkward artificial insemination shenanigans, the world's first cama was born in 1998 and was given the name Rama. The team behind his existence has since successfully helped three other camas into the world:
If you don't want to hug all these little guys right now, you might be dead inside.
This trio is called Kamilah, Jamilah and Rocky, and while that's fine and all, we'll never know how the research team managed to miss the opportunity to name them Lama, Ding and Dong. Come on, people, it was right there.
All four camas fall somewhere between their parents in size, and somehow manage to be 800 percent cuter than either side of their heritage would suggest. They have the strength and stamina of camels, but thankfully lack their notoriously vile temper and tendency to gob projectile spitbombs at anyone and everyone.
Camels: Because the desert wasn't unpleasant enough already.
Add in the ability to produce soft, valuable wool and a relatively friendly temperament, plus the fact that there's no uncomfortable hump that will mess with your ride, and you have pretty much the ultimate steed. Although only a handful of camas exist at the moment, the Camel Reproduction Center has no plans to leave them a curiosity project. They're out to make a new species here, people -- a plan that isn't exactly hindered by the fact that unlike most such hybrid creatures, the cama is not sterile.
#1. Saarloos Wolfhound
As we alluded to earlier, ever since the first starving Stone Age horrorwolf mustered up the courage to approach a cave-front campfire in search of some mammoth scraps, mankind has been busy breeding out their murderous beast qualities and replacing them with ones that were less likely to eat their face. It took time and it took effort, but eventually most of the wolf bits were gone and replaced with adorable dogginess.
And then, Leendert Saarloos of the Netherlands came along and decided that he was going to bring back the wolf. All the wolf. In an effort to create a trainable dog that was immune to distemper and other common maladies (and probably to erase "burglary" from his list of worries forever), he found himself a huge Mackenzie Valley wolf.
"Mixing the scariest wolf with the scariest dog couldn't possibly go awry."
The result was the Saarloos wolfhound, a new breed that kept the appearance and size (and most characteristics) of a wolf. It weighs upwards of 100 pounds and is highly intelligent and strong willed, with a strong pack instinct and a face that will deter even the most determined door-to-door salesman.
One of them is about to eat your face. The other is showing its teeth.
So, basically a particularly nasty wolf ... except for one thing. The Saarloos wolfhound is completely tame.
While Saarloos failed in his initial goal of achieving distemper immunity, he succeeded spectacularly in creating the most badass dog-wolf of all time. The wolfhounds are ridiculously versatile and have seen action as police dogs, seeing-eye dogs and even search and rescue dogs. Imagine being trapped under a girder, with the fire approaching rapidly, and then seeing an approaching wolf -- that scenario is actually happening somewhere in Netherlands right now (probably).
Liam Neeson? Psh.
Aspiring beast masters beware, though -- Saarloos wolfhounds are next to impossible to acquire outside the Netherlands due to strict breeding controls and the fact that they're quite rare. This may be a good thing, as the headstrong breed is definitely not for the inexperienced or meek owner. They are also ominously described by experts as a breed that is strongly not recommended for households with small children or, for that matter, smaller animals.
What's more, Saarloos wolfhounds are accomplished escape artists. However, get it all right and you have a superintelligent domesticated wolf that's totally cool with everything around it. And we mean everything -- here's one calmly playing with a Chihuahua:
You can email Meg at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stalk her on Twitter.
For more awesome things science can do, check out 5 Superpowers Science Will Give Us in Our Lifetime and The 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled in the Name of Science.