Tim Caro, Professor of Wildlife Biology along at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), has made it his search for view the evolution of coloration in mammals. The researcher spent two decades investigating why zebras sport black or white stripes (to prevent flies) and in some cases wrote a magazine, Zebra Stripes, about his epic discovery. Now, Caro has solved the age-old mystery of why giant pandas also sport the dual coloration.
According for the researcher, “Understanding why the enormous panda has such striking coloration is a huge long-standing condition in biology that’s been tricky to tackle because virtually not one other mammal has this appearance, making analogies difficult,”
Over the time, we have seen numerous theories to go into detail the animal’s signature black and white color. Some experts hypothesized it was subsequently to scare predators. Others believed that the white fur provided the mammal with much-needed camouflage inside snow, although dark patches enabled it to retain heat. Clearly there was even the theory the fact that markings for the panda’s head kept it hidden from predators, while the under eye circles around its eyes helped reduce the sun’s glare.
To solve the mystery for good, the UC Davis team, who worked in collaboration with scientists at California State University, Long Beach, compared the coloring of different portions of the enormous panda’s body to those of 200 carnivore species, including 39 bear subspecies. This was a hard task given that the scientists were required to carefully examine numerous images and find all the aspects of fur which are the same as those of the large panda. If they found a match, they looked further within the carnivore’s evolutionary history to ascertain whether or not this could explain the main reason the panda was sporting the identical color.
The team, who published their findings inside journal Behavioral Ecology on February 28, discovered that various areas of the enormous panda’s coloring serve different purposes. As ended up being previously believed, the mammal’s white face, neck, belly, and rump allow it to needlessly match the snow during winter. Its black arms or legs are not to retain heat, but to help you the panda stay hidden while in the shade during summer. Almost all of the vital for cubs that always perch on their own tree tops to avoid being seen by predators, like jackals and snow leopards, that share a similar mountainous habitat in China. The dark ears help scare off predators, although the black eye patches probably enable giant pandas to identify one another and, possibly, show aggression towards competitors.
According on the study, the giant panda’s striking dual coloring will be the response to its poor diet, that comprises primarily of bamboo, which has little nutrition and incredibly few calories. Considering that the mammals find it difficult to develop enough fat reserves to allow them to hibernate while in the winter, other product choice but to wander year-round searching for food.
The scientists speculate that as opposed to building a summer and winter coat just like the ones from small carnivores such as the arctic fox, “it [giant panda] has developed a compromise white and black pelage [fur].”
They maintain that this giant panda is not only animal that has adopted this evolutionary strategy. Some larger species of wolverines (Gulo gol) workout routines traverse across several habitats often sport an identical black or white coloring.
Resources: livescience.com, forbes.com,academic.oup.com