Scientists discover why pandas are black and white
Mar 07 2017
For example, dark ears convey a sense of ferocity, as a warning to predators.; whereas the dark eye patches allow pandas to recognize each other.
The researchers realized that, unlike some other types of bears, pandas have to be active year-round without hibernation.
For some time now, biologists have been trying to unlock the secrets behind the panda's black and white fur.
Prof Tim Caro, the lead author of the study, said exploring the animal's colour has previously been hard, because there are no fully comparable species.
Though pandas keep to stark blacks and whites, their patterns are famous.
Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuc) are ative to south central China, a region that experiences variations in the environment, including a mix of harsh winters and warm summers.
The researchers found "no compelling support for their fur color being involved in temperature regulation, disrupting the animal's outline, or in reducing eye glare", according to their study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, which were all explanations put forward as potential solutions to the coloring problem.
Scientists believe they have unlocked the secret of why the bamboo-munching giant panda. Scientists however had to analyze 39 other bear subspecies and 195 other carnivorous animals before they could arrive at the answers to the panda's unique two colors, Christian Science Monitor writes. "The breakthrough in the study was treating each part of the bodies an independent area". Since they don't hibernate during the winter, finding bamboo in snowy climates means they need to blend in, hence the white fur on the face, neck, tummy and posterior. The color pattern of panda helps it in hiding easily, the research team informed. Panda has to travel long distance to find its favorite bamboo diet. They help it hide in the shade. Since the giant pandas can not store sufficient fat to allow them to hibernate during winters, they remain active all throughout the year, travelling long distances and habitat types ranging from snow- covered mountains to tropical forests.
Those soulful panda eyes were hypothesised to help the animals communicate with one another, or perhaps serve as a way to signal aggression to a competitor, while their ears could perform similar "stay away, I'm angry" signalling to predators.
"This really was a Herculean effort by our team, finding and scoring thousands of images and scoring more than 10 areas per picture from over 20 possible colors", said co-author Ted Stankowich, a professor at CSU Long Beach.
The researchers involved in that study determined that the reason for the zebra's stripes likely has to do (at least partially) with the pattern's ability to repel flies.