It has been widely accepted that giant pandas have exclusively fed on bamboo for the last two million years but the study published in the journal Current Biology shows the opposite.
Extinct and ancient panda species were not exclusive bamboo eaters, and most likely had a more varied and complex diet, according to a study.
The giant pandas we know today live only in the understory of particular mountains in southwestern China, where they subsist on bamboo alone.
In support of their tough and fibrous bamboo diet, pandas have distinctive teeth, skull, and muscle characteristics along with a special pseudo-thumb to grasp and hold bamboo stems, leaves, and shoots.
However, the study, published in the journal Current Biology, shows the opposite.
Pandas were not exclusive bamboo eaters
1. The researchers first analysed bone collagen of modern pandas (1970s-2000s) and other mammals from the same mountains.
2. The stable isotopic composition of carbon and nitrogen from modern panda and other modern mammal bone samples indicated three obvious groups: carnivores, herbivores, and giant pandas.
3. Isotopes are different forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons.
4. The giant pandas were clearly unique, on account of their habit of eating bamboo, researchers said.
5. The team measured bone collagen isotopes of 12 ancient pandas collected from seven archaeological sites in southern and southwestern China and compared them to the patterns they observed in modern giant pandas.