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Hybrid is a term which refers to the result of the blending of two unlike things. In common usage, it may refer to one of several specific things related to this idea of mixing two different objects to make something new.
- In biology, a hybrid is the offspring, usually sterile, produced by the mating of two different strains or species. For example, a mule is a hybrid of a female horse and a male donkey - a hybrid of male horse and female donkey is called hinny. Similarly, a hybrid between a lion and a tiger is a liger or tigron, depending on whether you have a male tiger and female lion or female tiger and male lion. It shows how the definition of species can be not straightforward, leading to contentious debates on species and sub-species statuses. The ability for animals of similar genetics to hydbridize is one piece of evidence for common descent.
- In Chemistry, hybridization refers to the mixing of electronic orbitals to form hybrid orbitals when atoms bond to each other. For instance, a shell usually consists of three p orbitals and one s orbital, these then "mix" to form four identical sp3 orbitals. This is mostly a mathematical simplification to help explain structure and valance, sp3 hybridisation explains the tetrahedral structure of a carbon atom with 4 single bonds; sp2 explains the planar structure of a carbon atom with a double bond attached to it. Hybrid orbitals don't necessarily exist, per se, but they work as a good theory to make predictions of molecular and electronic structure.