Why are pan­das black and white?

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - Wash­ing­ton Post

The au­thors of a new study on the panda think they might have an an­swer to why pan­das are black and white: Panda pat­terns serve as a com­bi­na­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cam­ou­flage, a group of bi­ol­o­gists from Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis and Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity at Long Beach wrote recently in the jour­nal Be­hav­ioral Ecol­ogy.

Pan­das, un­like other bears, can­not slumber through the win­ter, which means that their sur­round­ings change rel­a­tively rapidly be­tween light snow and dark for­est shade. The pat­tern, then, is some­thing of a cam­ou­flage com­pro­mise.

As for the panda faces, the sci­en­tists said they found “links be­tween con­trast­ing ears and pug­nac­ity,” which is to say that the bears’ black ears may serve as a warn­ing to would-be preda­tors.

The eye con­trast, too, could work sim­i­larly as ag­gres­sion dis­plays.

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