Panda Bomboo
December 22, 2020

Decryption the black and white colors of Panda

2 min read

The origins of this constellation of black spots

The origins of this constellation of black spots on the panda's fur will be very difficult for the scientific community because no other mammal shares its characteristics.

One less mystery! Researchers are said to have deciphered the bicolored coat of the giant panda (Ailuropodamelanoleuca). It would be used for both camouflage and communication. Scientific researchers who had previously studied the striped coat of zebras have proposed the same approach for the panda. But this one is atypical: instead of looking at the coat as a whole, each area was studied independently. And for each one, they compared it with light and dark hairs of some carnivorous species and subspecies of bears . While analyzing them in relation to the behavior and environment of the panda in order to determine their function.

Panda camouflage...

The immaculate part of this ursida would allow it to camouflage itself in the snow while its shoulders and legs would be black to hide in the shadows of the forests. The authors of the study deduce in particular from his habits: his poor diet - bamboo shoots - does not allow him to store fat and therefore hibernate like other bears. He must therefore be active in all seasons to look for food, roaming the alpine mountains in winter to the tropical forests in summer ... And this without changing its down jacket like some species such as the ermine and the polar fox which have an outfit for each season. Hence this compromise of coat allowing it to blend into any decor. And you will have guessed it, it is not to better catch bamboo but to protect itself from predators. Because despite its imposing size that can reach up to 125 kg and 1.80 meters it is hunted by other bears and wild dogs.

The communication mask

For the panda make-up which would be a means of identification and communication. With eye shadow, several elements attest to this hypothesis: this marking is particularly present in daytime carnivores, justifying for these researchers a communicating role. Moreover, there is a great diversity in the shapes of these spots, diverging in particular between males and females. Finally, the behaviour of pandas: in previous work it had been observed that pandas could attack certain congeners and remember them 6 to 12 months later... And as a sign of appeasement, they would cover the eyes with their legs or hide the head. So the pandas could recognize each other by this means and probably send aggressive signals to each other between competitors.

As for the ears, researchers have associated the dark side with rather aggressive species... What the panda is. Hence the suggestion that they might be involved in predator intimidation. Moreover, the role of black ears and eyes being often associated in carnivores, researchers do not exclude the possibility that the ears act by mimicry with the eyes.

 


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