Failed Hybrids were the old standby for Monster Manual contributors. The formula was simple: combine part of an animal with part of another animal to form a third, much stupider, animal. The authors thought that since ancient mythology combined animals the technique was fair game for them. They were wrong!
Zack: These people have never seen an owl or a bear.
Steve: Okay, so some art is bad. You can't condemn the whole owlbear just because of one bad picture.
Zack: It looks like Jim Henson's apostrophe.
Steve: The owlbear combines the ferociousness of a bear and the cunning of an owl.
Zack: Which of those two brings the love of subterranean labyrinths to the relationship?
Zack: Barns and trees.
Zack: Woods and caves.
Steve: A cave is like a subterranean labyrinth.
Zack: Not really, but I guess to be fair underground mazes are way more prevalent in the D&D ecosystem.
Steve: Exactly, dude. I know some owls that would love to fight in a maze, there just aren't any mazes.
Zack: You don't know any owls.
Steve: Alright, maybe not, but I'm like an expert on owlbears and this injustice will not stand.
Zack: Fine! You win! My apologies to the owlbear.
Steve: The owlbear accepts only the sweet apology of vengeance.
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