MAR 05, 2017 11:13 AM PST

Why Do Giant Pandas Have Black and White Fur?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

When it comes to the animal kingdom, most mammals you see in the wild are a color that matches their surrounding environment. There are always a handful of exceptions, but the most prevalent colors are shades of black and brown, which camouflage well with their surroundings.

It would seem like having easy-to-spot color schemes would make animals a bigger target to predation. That said, why do some animals, like the giant panda for example, have such unique body fur colors that make them easier to see?

Giant pandas have black and white fur color schemes that aren't like many other mammals in their class.

Image Credit: sipa/pixabay

A new study that has been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology talks more about the possibilities behind why these animals have such a stark body fur color scheme compared to most other kinds of wildlife.

The researchers, which are based out of the University of California, Davis, and California State University, Long Beach, compared the animals to various other furry animals in the region, including 39 bear subspecies and over 190 other carnivores.

The researchers suggest that perhaps the dual-toned body fur color provides the ‘best of both worlds’ camouflage for the two different kinds of environments where giant pandas can be found in China: dense forests and the snowy tops of mountainous terrains.

Of course, as the seasons change, this color scheme also gives giant pandas a potentially versatile camouflage that works year-round through the Summer and Winter months.

"Analyses of fur color and background environments suggest that the giant panda’s white face, nape, dorsum, flank, belly, and rump are adapted for crypsis against a snowy background, whereas its black shoulders and legs are adapted for crypsis in shade," the researchers write. "Dark markings on the head are not used in crypsis, however, but in communication: Dark ears may be involved with signaling intent about ferocity whereas dark eye marks may serve in individual recognition."

Also important, the researchers found that the black patches of fur on the animals’ faces were distinct from one to another, which may help the animals in identifying one from another in the wild and/or communicating with one another. Other bits of black fur, such as around the rest of the body, would help the creature stay concealed in shadowy forested areas.

Because giant pandas don’t really move around much due to their low-energy diets, having the means of blending in with their surroundings is critical to their existence. Since they can’t change colors like a chameleon can, having this dual-purpose body fur color scheme is the next best thing.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered about the topic considering much of what we know currently is based off of theories, but at least it’s a starting point for research into the mystery.

Source: Science Mag

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 20, 2020
Plants & Animals
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Are Usually Understated
AUG 20, 2020
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Are Usually Understated
Cuttlefish are well known for their incredible camouflaging abilities; they can rapidly change the color and texture of ...
AUG 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
Active Dogs Are Less Fearful But Breed is Also a Major Factor
AUG 24, 2020
Active Dogs Are Less Fearful But Breed is Also a Major Factor
Most dog owners are familiar with some common triggers of anxiety and fear in their pets, like new situations, loud nois ...
OCT 09, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
OCT 09, 2020
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
Just like animals, plants are made of cells that are full of proteins. The proteins in plant cells are often only found ...
NOV 07, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
How the Suction Cups on Octopus Arms Detect Their Surroundings
NOV 07, 2020
How the Suction Cups on Octopus Arms Detect Their Surroundings
Scientists have taken a close look at the physiology of the octopus, creatures that are ancient and unique. Their arms c ...
NOV 16, 2020
Cancer
Fingerprinting Ginger Extracts and Testing Their Anti-Cancer Abilities
NOV 16, 2020
Fingerprinting Ginger Extracts and Testing Their Anti-Cancer Abilities
Modern medicine relies on careful study and isolation of compounds or proteins, but many studies point to natural herbal ...
JAN 19, 2021
Plants & Animals
How Seagrasses Can Remove Plastic From the Ocean
JAN 19, 2021
How Seagrasses Can Remove Plastic From the Ocean
Plastic pollution in the ocean is a major problem, from the great Pacifici Garbage Patch to the micro plastics that have ...
Loading Comments...