The Panda Family


The forefathers of The Panda Family


The oldest known forefather of the panda family lived 8 to 9 million years earlier. Since then, like all other types, it has actually developed and also adjusted to geological and also weather turmoils, resulting in the modern giant panda, the one we locate today. Understood for centuries in the East, China’s nationwide prize has actually constantly been bordered by deep secret as well as meaning, until its existence was revealed to the Western globe by a French missionary and also naturalist in 1869. Ever since, the terrific cat-bear, as the Chinese phone call him, has continued to be the animal of all covetousness.

In the last century, paleontologists have actually discovered just over a hundred huge panda fossil websites in Asia, notably in China. The research of these erratic fossils has made it possible to make clear the development of the species.

The giant panda comes from the order of predators. Their earliest ancestor, the predator Creodont, lived in the Paleocene (early Tertiary Age) 60 million years back. Miacis, the straight descendant of Creodont, lived during the Paleocene and also the Eocene and after that deviated into 2 branches. One branch, the Feloidea, contains modern cat-like animals (including Viverridae, Herpestidae, Felidae and Hyaenidae). The other branch, Cynoidea, consists of modern bear-like creatures (including Canidae, Ursidae, Ailuridae, Ailuropodidae and Mustelidae).

The earliest recognized forefather of the large panda is Ailurarctos (an Ailuropodidae and also for that reason offspring of the Cynoidea), it lived about 8 million years back (late Miocene). Fossils have revealed that Ailurarctos lived near marshes and also did not feed entirely on bamboo. It was just since the excellent panda took out to an one-of-a-kind eco-friendly atmosphere in the last stage of its advancement that it started to feed generally on bamboo, which was plentiful, to prevent food competitors.

Fossils of Ailurarctos dating from the late Miocene were discovered in the lignite layer at Lufeng and also Yuanmou (northwestern Yunnan Province, China) and also were called Ailurarctos lufengensis and also Ailurarctos yuanmouensis specifically.

One branch of Ailurarctos developed into Ailuropoda microta, a smaller sized form of the here and now big panda, yet somewhat larger than Ailuractos, which inhabited big areas in south-western, southern, main as well as north-western China. Nevertheless, between Pleistocene (600,000 to 700,000 years ago), Ailuropoda microta slowly ended up being vanished in the battle for survival as well as was replaced at the end of the Lower Pleistocene by a bigger huge panda, which underwent numerous changes in between cold and also warm environments. The characteristics of the skull of the last panda do not vary fundamentally from the present large panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca, to the level that the two species can be compared to the very same types. Nonetheless, the dimension of the head suggests that this sort of large panda was bigger than today one, so it was named Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi, after an agreement between scientists. A. m. baconi is one of the most current ancestor of the large panda. It lived concerning 700,000 years ago and also was commonly distributed in southeastern China and also even appeared in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Vietnam. The optimal of the last (fourth) ice age took place 18,000 years back and also extreme cool and the rising Himalayas caused the extinction of A. m. baconi. Most of this subspecies became extinct 12,000 years ago with the end of this ice age.


The Panda Family Picture
The Panda Family Picture

The size these days’s large panda has shrunk from one-eighth to one-ninth contrasted to A. m. baconi.

Some authors think that there has been a transitional subspecies in between Ailuropoda microta and also Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi, named Ailuropoda melanoleuca wulingshanensis, which has some similar features with both Ailuropoda microta as well as Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi.

The Holocene panda is typically taken into consideration the modern-day Ailuropoda melanoleuca as well as its body size is a little smaller sized than that of Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi. But fossil evidence has shown that Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi lived somewhat in the Holocene.

Because Ailurarctos, the huge panda has actually thus gone through 8 to 9 million years of evolution. Compared to Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi, the range of the modern Ailuropoda melanoleuca is minimized. 3 major occasions explain this: the surge of the Tibetan plateau, the weather variations of the Quaternary as well as the rapid growth of human task.


How old is the panda ?