When is a ‘panda’ not a panda – and are any pandas really bears?

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Purple in tooth and claw

The phrase ‘panda’ has an ambiguous origin, however one principle is that it’s from both the Nepali nigalya ponya (‘bamboo eater’) or paja (‘claw’). One factor is definite, nonetheless – it was utilized to the pink panda first. 

The animal was described by French zoologist Frédéric Cuvier in 1825, who added the scientific title Ailurus fulgens, actually, ‘shining cat.’ Not unforgivably, Cuvier judged the pink panda as being a very anti-social member of the raccoon household.  

“The pink pandas are solitary and shy animals,” says Ang Phuri Sherpa, Nepal nation director for conservation group The Purple Panda Community. “They are often present in pairs on the time of their mating, and when cubs are accompanied by a mom.” Ang Phuri says the panda’s title might have originated from one other Nepali phrase, punde, which suggests ‘having white marks on their face,’ including: “It’s true by way of etymology that pink panda is the one ‘true’ panda.”

Whereas pandas each big and pink share a standard title, given their apparent bodily variations you may anticipate them to not share a scientific title. Confusingly, they nearly do. The enormous panda’s genus is Ailuropoda – which on this case means ‘cat-foot’, quite than merely ‘cat’. 

And it is within the foot that these apparently dissimilar creatures share one in every of two fascinating frequent options: the ‘false thumb’, or modified sesamoid digit. These specifically developed entrance paws, every with an elongated wrist bone, permits the animals to control the precept ingredient of their second frequent characteristic: food regimen. Each animals eat bamboo, and have developed this bodily trait geared to gripping these tubular stalks, a phenomenon of adaptation to a shared surroundings generally known as convergent evolution. 

This dietary quirk and their shared habitat in moist, misty mountainous areas of China actually provides the 2 pandas one thing to speak about. However are they associated? 

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