question archive Thus, the giant panda has been placed in the bear family, viz
Thus, the giant panda has been placed in the bear family, viz., Ursidae, and Carnivora. Interestingly, not all members of Carnivora are meat-eaters. The giant panda mostly eats bamboo. The giant panda is the only member of the genus Ailuropoda as it is not very closely related to any other bears.
Evolutionary history and distribution . . . . . . . .
The giant panda's habitat includes the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests located in regions of Southwest China (Gansu, Shaanxi, and Sichuan Provinces) to the east of the Tibetan plateau. The preferred habitats are situated at the top of the Yangtze River Basin, an ecoregion whose natural resources they have shared with other communities for thousands of years. Fossil records of the giant panda group are restricted to Eurasia.  .They show that the enormous panda populations had a much broader range in the Pleistocene, extending throughout most southern and eastern China, northern Myanmar, northern Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Fossil evidence also indicates that this species originated in the late Miocene, swelled during the middle Pleistocene, and started reducing in the late Pleistocene. Significant reductions in their numbers have occurred for thousands of years, mainly due to poaching by humans and climatic changes. In the 16th –19th centuries, the giant panda was distributed widely in southwest China, including Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces.  . . . . . . . . . .
Anthropological studies indicate that the giant panda has evolved for more than three million years as a separate lineage from other bears and adapted to eating bamboo since early in its evolution. Panda is the only bear species known to exist entirely on a vegetarian diet. However, it lacks the digestive tract modifications that allow herbivores to break down plants' cell walls. They can only digest the contents of plant cells and, since the bamboo lacks nutritional value, the pandas need to feed excessively to keep their digestive tract full. Thus, the giant panda, feeding almost exclusively on the stems and leaves of bamboo for nearly 14 hours a day, consumes around 12 – 14 kg of bamboo per day. However, pandas will also readily scavenge on meat (e.g., rodents) if they happen to come across it.