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Little bit
05-19-2015, 06:57 PM
Giant pandas cannot properly digest bamboo, scientists find
Giant pandas are forced to eat so much bamboo because they lack the enzymes to properly digest the plant

The mystery of why giant pandas are forced to spend 14 hours a day eating foods has finally been solved - they can only digest around 17 per cent of the bamboo they swallow.
Researchers found their gut bacteria are not the type for efficiently breaking down bamboo. In fact they are built to eat meat.
The giant panda actually harbours a carnivore-like gut, according to the research published in the journal mBio.
Pandas are one of the most endangered species on Earth, with only 1,600 animals left in the wild.
The study's lead author Zhihe Zhang, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, said: "Unlike other plant-eating animals that have successfully evolved, anatomically specialised digestive systems to efficiently deconstruct fibrous plant matter, the giant panda still retains a gastrointestinal tract typical of carnivores.
"The animals also do not have the genes for plant-digesting enzymes in their own genome. This combined scenario may have increased their risk for extinction."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/11616085/Giant-pandas-cannot-properly-digest-bamboo-scientists-find.html

I've also heard they are terrible parents. Any ideas how, or why, and animal known for it's poor parenting skills and now, extremely questionable food choices, exists? Why hasn't natural selection taken care of the pandas long ago and are they worth saving?

Kale
05-19-2015, 07:09 PM
Probably not much other competition eating bamboo, even if they aren't good at it, there's enough that it doesn't matter.

Ignis90
05-19-2015, 07:39 PM
Giant pandas cannot properly digest bamboo, scientists find
Giant pandas are forced to eat so much bamboo because they lack the enzymes to properly digest the plant

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/11616085/Giant-pandas-cannot-properly-digest-bamboo-scientists-find.html

I've also heard they are terrible parents. Any ideas how, or why, and animal known for it's poor parenting skills and now, extremely questionable food choices, exists? Why hasn't natural selection taken care of the pandas long ago and are they worth saving?

Well, if it wasn't for anthropization, pandas would be fine. So one cannot play the natural selection card because there is a clear human influence.

Nature creates sometimes freaks, no pun intended, and it works quite well (or would go extinct otherwise) despite high mortality rates for some, inefficient digestion for others or both for the freaking Pandas (etc...)


However, I agree that people are more willing to give money to the panda cause than to a random invertebrate cause for instance despite the fact most invertebrates would actually be much more useful to save for their more crucial role in an ecosystem. No wonder WWF's mascot is the black and white bear and not a bug.

tamilgangster
05-20-2015, 08:45 AM
why do they eat it then, maybe they got too lazy to hunt

Little bit
05-20-2015, 11:34 AM
why do they eat it then, maybe they got too lazy to hunt

That's exactly my question. Humans also eat food that can be incompatible with their gut bacteria, genetic makeup, and is generally known to be toxic and unhealthy to them. But, I assume that propensity is a compulsive and/or socially driven behavior facilitated by modern pharmaceuticals that mitigate the negative side effects. I assume the pandas are more instinct driven but maybe I assume too much? Perhaps this is a hard-wired learned behavior by youngsters and lacking the ability for higher reasoning, never think to change the behavior? I've heard that pandas can be particularly aggressive and dangerous...does anyone know if they ever eat what they kill, even just to sample it?

I wanted to post this here specifically because I wonder if this challenges the notion of natural selection/pressure on some level? What I find even more interesting is that pandas have been eating bamboo for 2 million years so why is there no selection pressure for enzymes to process it more efficiently and why aren't the gut bacteria changing over time within the animal?


The researchers said that giant pandas evolved from bears that ate both plants and meat, and started eating bamboo exclusively about two million years ago.

?????????

surbakhunWeesste
05-20-2015, 05:08 PM
Their Bamboo chopping skill is around 7 million years old. We may need to re-colonize their colon microbes similar to those of Vegetarian animals. All they do is munch and much for over 14hrs a day.

https://kisecologymichelle.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/panda.jpeg

Little bit
05-20-2015, 05:18 PM
Thanks for posting that (cute) pic. Look at those canines! That's not a set of chompers for eating vegetation, those are teeth for eating meat. Is there any precedent in the animal world for an animal eating such an ill suited diet for millions of years and not adapting to it? Granted, humans have been engaging in farming since the Neolithic and I keep hearing how we're not particularly suited or adapted to it (yet) either but I don't think it's this bad. Is it?