The Influence of a Bamboo Diet on the Evolutionary Adaptations of the Giant Panda
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) of China is, anatomically, a carnivore trying to get by on an herbivorous diet (Dolnick, 1989). While it is a member of the order Carnivora, ninety-nine percent of the panda's feedstuff is bamboo. The giant panda has survived on a bamboo diet for millions of years and throughout its history has evolved numerous adaptations for obtaining and processing this plant efficiently. Various characteristics of bamboo are considered, including: anatomy, strength, cyanogenic capabilities, reproductive cycle, nutrition and abundance. Following these characteristics, specific adaptations that appear to correspond with these properties of bamboo are examined. Adaptations can be found in the panda's anatomy and behavior, including: anatomical adaptations in the head, forepaw and digestive tract and behavioral adaptations in the panda's migratory behavior, feeding, food selection, reproduction, rest, and social behaviors.
Pettitt, Beth A., "The Influence of a Bamboo Diet on the Evolutionary Adaptations of the Giant Panda" (1995). Honors Theses. 529.
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