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Panda Bear

India brotherbear Offline
Grizzly Enthusiast
( This post was last modified: 04-07-2018, 04:32 PM by brotherbear )

Are the panda bears ( giant pandas ) really bears or are they giant members of the raccoon family?

Are Pandas True Bears Or Are They Raccoons?
October 13, 1985|By Jan Ziegler. United Press International.

WASHINGTON — A bear is a bear is a bear is a bear. Unless it`s a panda.

It may never have crossed your mind that Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, the famous giant pandas that charm visitors at the National Zoo, may be members of the raccoon family. But it has been an issue among scientists for more than a century.

The question is whether giant pandas should belong to either of the families, or if they should have a family of their own in the vast system of scientific classification that has a label for just about every animal in the world.

Giant pandas, according Stephen J. O`Brien, a research associate at the zoo, have been grouped with bears since their discovery by the Western world in the 1860s.

However, they have un-bearlike characteristics. Giant pandas are vegetarian, consuming mostly bamboo. Their forequarters are huge, rear quarters relatively small. In bears, although some have huge forequarters, rears are generally not as reduced.

``Finally, the giant panda does not behave like a bear,`` O`Brien and colleagues wrote in the scientific journal Nature. ``Most bears hibernate, the giant panda does not; bears roar, whereas the giant panda bleats.``

The raccoon faction has argued that because of its skull and tooth structure, markings and other characteristics, the giant panda belongs in the same family from which raccoons and the lesser or red panda, which really does look like a raccoon, diverged millions of years ago.

To put the matter to rest, the National Zoo researchers called on the powers of genetic technology. They took some cell samples from a raccoon, a giant panda, a lesser panda and a trio of Bruins: one American brown bear, a spectacled bear and a Maylayan sun bear.

Running the samples through three molecular tests that would reveal gene structure, they found the genetic similarities between bears and giant pandas far exceeded the number and extent of differences.

On the family tree, the bear group and procyonid group, to which the lesser panda belongs, probably split from a single ancestor line about 30 million to 50 million years ago.

The procyonids split into New World procyonids--represented by raccoons, coatis and kinkajous--and Old World procyonids, the aforementioned lesser pandas, 10 million years later.

Giant pandas branched off the bear family tree 15 to 25 million years ago. Judging by the molecular tests, they should be considered a sub-group of the bear family.

The ideosyncracies of giant pandas probably are the result of evolution and ancestral characteristics lost by bears after they split from the main line, the researchers wrote.
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
Ecology and Conservation

Why did the panda's ancestors ditch meat for bamboo?

Everyone knows that pandas eat bamboo. But did you know that many of their closest relatives are carnivores? So how did the meat-eating ancestor of pandas become a vegetarian? According to this study, it may have had to do with the deactivation (technically known as “pseudogenization”) of an umami taste receptor gene. Umami is the taste that makes things like meat, soy sauce, and mushrooms extra yummy. Apparently, at some point in panda evolution, the umami receptor became non-functional. Based on how much the gene has changed, the authors calculate that this happened around the same time that pandas started eating bamboo. Whether it’s cause or effect is unclear, although the authors think the switch to bamboo may have happened before the gene was lost. Regardless, the loss of the gene reinforced the panda’s vegetarian diet because it made meat less delicious to the bears. Now if only we could make chocolate less delicious… wait, that’s a terrible idea!
Pseudogenization of the umami taste receptor gene Tas1r1 in the giant panda coincided with its dietary switch to bamboo.
“Although it belongs to the order Carnivora, the giant panda is a vegetarian with 99% of its diet being bamboo. The draft genome sequence of the giant panda shows that its umami taste receptor gene Tas1r1 is a pseudogene, prompting the proposal that the loss of the umami perception explains why the giant panda is herbivorous. To test this hypothesis, we sequenced all six exons of Tas1r1 in another individual of the giant panda and five other carnivores. We found that the open reading frame (ORF) of Tas1r1 is intact in all these carnivores except the giant panda. The rate ratio (ω) of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions in Tas1r1 is significantly higher for the giant panda lineage than for other carnivore lineages. Based on the ω change and the observed number of ORF-disrupting substitutions, we estimated that the functional constraint on the giant panda Tas1r1 was relaxed ∼ 4.2 Ma, with its 95% confidence interval between 1.3 and 10 Ma. Our estimate matches the approximate date of the giant panda’s dietary switch inferred from fossil records. It is probable that the giant panda’s decreased reliance on meat resulted in the dispensability of the umami taste, leading to Tas1r1 pseudogenization, which in turn reinforced its herbivorous life style because of the diminished attraction of returning to meat eating in the absence of Tas1r1. Nonetheless, additional factors are likely involved because herbivores such as cow and horse still retain an intact Tas1r1.”
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
Senior Member
( This post was last modified: 01-23-2020, 07:01 PM by BorneanTiger )

Pandas are seen as being cute and gentle, but animals are animals:

1 user Likes BorneanTiger's post

United Kingdom Sully Offline
Ecology and Conservation

@BorneanTiger that last video is a joke, lol
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb

Switzerland Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

David Yarrow: " Today, we are celebrating #WorldPandaDay⁣ "


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