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Low metabolism and physical activity let Pandas survive on bamboo

For long, Scientists have wondered how giant pandas survive on a diet consisting of bamboo, which has only a few nutrients. On Thursday, scientists revealed that the laziness, less physical activity and hormones, allow them to live on bamboo.giant-lazy-pandas-eating-bamboos

Researchers have discovered that these giant creatures were evolved to use only little energy. The study involved pandas living in the wild and in captivity, and recorded the daily expenditure (DEE) of eight pandas. They discovered that pandas do not move much, and spend their days by eating. In the wild, pandas are active for about half a day while those in captivity, were in motion only one-third of the time.

“However, it is not only their low activity that contributes to their low metabolism,” said John Speakman of the University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Speakman said that the metabolic activity of an active panda is lower than that of a stationary man. He added that low metabolism is correlated with the low levels of thyroid hormones. While low metabolism is linked to a heating problem in the body, it was found that the thick fur in pandas allowed them to maintain body temperatures. Several other animals require hibernation to meet the low energy needs of the body.

Though pandas ate both meat and plants, they evolved to eat a diet exclusively consisting of bamboo. However, they still have the ability to digest meat, and they need about 50 pounds of bamboo every day. Fuwen Wei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences stated that it was his long-time dream to understand how the metabolism of the giant panda would be, and why the giant panda survives on their specialized and low-quality bamboo diet. The study on how pandas survive on bamboos was published in the journal Science.

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