The distinctive black and white fur of the giant panda in fact one of the most recognizable animals on the planet. But why does he have this unique coloring?

Scientists say it's mostly for hiding from predators, both in the snow and in the shade, moreover, the big dark circles around a panda's eyes can help other pandas recognize it, the researchers said.

In this article, we will see together the following points:

  • the analysis and study of the panda
  • his particular diet

After reading this you will be able to explain why the panda is black and white.

panda blanket


"Understand why the giant panda has such a striking coloring has been a problem for a long time in biology, which was difficult to resolve because hardly any other mammal looks like this, making analogies difficult, ”said lead author of the study, Tim Caro, professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology at the University of California.


To investigate, Caro and her colleagues watched pandas pictures and of 195 other species carnivores, including 39 bear subspecies. Then they noted the staining on each region of the body of these animals and compared them with the regions of the panda body.

baby panda tree

“The breakthrough of the study was to treat each part of the body as an independent area,” Caro said. The research team attempted to match the dark colored areas to different ecological variables and behavioral to understand their purpose. After making numerous comparisons, the researchers determined that the white parts of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) - his face, neck, stomach and rump - help him hide in the snow. In contrast, his black arms and legs help him hide in the shadows, they said.

The white and black coloring of the panda did not appear to be involved in temperature regulation or disruptive coloring, a type of camouflage in which an animal's markings do not coincide with its body shape. They also did not find any evidence that the dark circles around eyes of a panda helped reduce glare.


It's possible that panda coloring either the result of his restricted diet. Pandas are known for eat only bamboo. However, they lack the gut bacteria to efficiently digest the resistant plant, a 2015 study found in the journal mBio.

bamboo panda baby

Rather, pandas have gut bacteria reminiscent of their predatory ancestors. The pandas get so few nutrients and calories from eating bamboo, that they cannot store enough fat to go into hibernation during the winter, said Caro and her colleagues.

So the pandas must remain active all year round, wandering long distances and through different types of habitats - from snow-capped mountains to tropical forests - to find more bamboo.

"We hypothesize that the giant panda being incapable to moult quickly enough to match each environment ... it has therefore evolved between a compromise of white and black coat [fur], "the researchers wrote in the study published online Feb. 28 in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

However, the black marks on the panda's head are not used to hide from predators, but rather to communicate. The black ears of bears can help him express aggression as a warning to predators, Caro said.

Additionally, its dark eye patches can help pandas recognize each other, or signal hostility towards panda competitors. “It was truly a Herculean effort by our team, finding thousands of images and marking over 10 areas per image from over 20 possible colors,” study co-author Ted Stankowich, assistant professor of biology at California State University, Long Beach, said in the statement.

tired baby panda

Sometimes it takes hundreds of hours of hard work to answer what seems like the simplest of questions: why is the panda black and white?


InPanda universewe wishsensitize and educateall economic players. By proving thatpandas are unique animalsin the animal kingdom, but also inprotecting and preservingtheir habitat, we will save manyother species.

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