Giant Pandas are cute looking creatures that have been the source of inspiration for countless movies for long. Native to central China, Pandas are known for their unique pattern and bamboo diet. Loss of habitat and reluctance to breed has left them in the category of endangered species. Despite being subjected to intensive scientific scrutiny, the black and white spots of Pandas have remained a mystery for long. But now, the scientists seem to have found the reason behind these spots.
A team of researchers from the University of California, Davis, and California State University, Long Beach, studied 195 carnivore species and 39 bear subspecies and figured out that colouration in Pandas occurs due to two reasons– communication and camouflage.
The researchers believe that the dual colouration in Pandas occurs due to the vegetarian diet that relies heavily on bamboo shoots and their inability to digest any other plant. Which means that unlike other bear species, they can’t store enough fat for the winter months and have to remain active throughout the year to satisfy their energy needs.
While the white face, neck, belly and rump help it to blend into the snowy background during the winter months, the black shoulders and legs help it to hide in the shadow of the bamboo plant. On the other hand, black spots help pandas in communication. Scientists believe that the ears of a Panda are of a dark hue to help then send ‘signals of aggression’, whereas the black eyes could help in individual recognition.
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However, there is no compelling proof that could shed some light on how their fur colour helps the pandas to regulate their body temperature or reduce eye glare.
Needless to say that whatever the reason, Pandas are still just as charming.