Scientists have found out that the black patches of a panda are not always black for the same reason.
After scouring thousands of photos - and experiencing enormous difficulty in trying to figure out pandas due to a lack of similar species for comparison - the team chose to deconstruct the creature by treating every part of the panda's body as an independent area of study.
Scientists have revealed that the black and white markings on giant pandas serve two functions: camouflage and communication. Other kinds of bears tend to sport solid, non-patterned colors, and scientists did not have a satisfactory explanation as to why the panda bear was so different.
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.
Pandas are easily recognizable due to their black-and-white fur patterns, but we've never known what objective their colorization served.
Scientists in California say they have determined why giant pandas have such distinctive black and white fur. This enabled the team to compare different regions of fur across the giant panda's body to 195 other carnivore species and 39 bear subspecies. "The breakthrough in the study was treating each part of the body as an independent area". Which means that unlike other bear species, they can't store enough fat for the winter months and have to remain active throughout the year to satisfy their energy needs. Writing in the journal Behavioral Ecology, the researchers theorize that white patches on the panda's face, rump, and belly provide camouflage from predators in snowy habitats, while dark limbs help the panda hide in forests. And that zebras have two distinctive white and black stripes to actually help it ward off irritating flies.
However, there is no compelling proof that could shed some light on how their fur colour helps the pandas to regulate their body temperature or reduce eye glare. Their dark eye patches may help them recognise each other or signal aggression toward panda competitors, the study said. But there were few relationships between eye markings and an environment's brightness - which is to suggest that dark patches around the panda eyes did not come about as a defense to the sun along the lines of National Football League eyeblack. Pandas are very sweet and seem playful.
"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", says co-author Ted Stankowich, a professor at CSU Long Beach.