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By: Kiana Nicholas

Do you know how Lun Lun and other giant

pandas came to be, physically and
behaviorally, the animal you see?

This is what I asked myself when I observed
these amazing creatures

As we go throughout this presentation, you
will learn about how the Giant Panda
evolved overtime, adapting physically and
behaviorally to their changing

First, here is some fun facts about pandas!!!

Here is Lun Lun the Giant
Panda. She is 10 years old,
weighs 105-115kg and lives
currently in Zoo Atlanta
The average life span of the
Giant Panda is 25-30 years,
average weight for males is 187-
276lbs (154-220lbs for
Live in the dense, damp forest of
western China
Eats 26-29lbs of bamboo shoots
-(Thats 611 of your snack packs)
Sleeps about 12 hours a day

How did pandas become to behave this way?!!
Evolution is the theory that
groups of organisms change
with passage of time, mainly
as a result of natural
selection, so that
descendants differ
morphologically and
physiologically from their
Natural selection is the
principle that, among the
range of inherited trait
variations, those that lead to
increased reproduction and
survival will most likely be
passed on to succeeding
Evolutionary psychologists
study the evolution of
behavior and the mind,
attempting to understand
how natural selection has
shaped behaviors

The Very Beginning
Earliest pandas were small, forest-
dwelling creatures with the figure
like a fat fox
8 million years ago, the ancestor
of the Giant Panda, the primal
panda (Ailuaractos Lufergensis),
lived at the edge of the tropic
humid forest in Yunan Province of
In early Pleistocene period, one
branch (Ailuropoda Micarta)
appeared with the figure of a fat
dog, 1/8 smaller than the present
2 million years later, they started
to extend their living area to the
living areas of the primal pandas,
later becoming larger and larger in
body size as they adapted to life in
subtropical bamboo woods to
exploit the widespread and reliable
plant resources of southern Asia.

Ancestor(left); modern-day(right
Classic Description: How did they become to look this

Chinese legend: In the legend, pandas were originally pure white, but one day, one particular panda was
fighting with a leopard. When a little girl tried to help, the leopard killed her and all the pandas were
sad. They gave her a funeral, wearing black arm bands, but when they were crying and hugging, the
black dye from the bands spread on their paws. Every time they hugged and cried, they rubbed the dye
on each other, putting the dye on their faces and bodies. This is one mythical theory but more scientific
theories involve the pandas evolving physically and behaviorally to survive in their physical and social

Other Theories
dark and light pattern complements the
shadow and light of the bamboo forest
but the panda has no natural enemies
to hide from.
Social signals
the pattern accentuates social signals
helps pandas recognize one another
from a distance so they can avoid
suggests that the black absorbs heat
while the white reflects it
helps pandas maintain even
All 3 theories
share the same basis of behavioral and
mind evolution, explaining the coloring
as resulting from the giant panda
adapting to the physical and social
environment to protect itself,
communicate and survive.
According to evolutionary psychologists, the act of
hiding in the shadows, communicating with other
pandas via social signals, and remaining in well
heated areas are evolved behaviors, using natural
selection since these behaviors would help the panda

Similar to a bear:
large paws with claws
dense fur
a large body.
Several features that are unique to the
giant panda:
the giant panda has a moderately
developed sixth digit adapted for
grasping bamboo shoots
(just as you grasp your snack sticks)
Doesnt hibernate because they
cant store enough energy from
Similar to a sheep or goat:
Pandas bleat, a chatter also similar
to the red panda
Similar to a raccoon:
They also have tiny, backward
pointing male genitalia
*the studies showed the giant panda was closer related to the bear line
because their chromosomes were similar to the bear chromosomes. After the
tests, it was determined that because of chromosal fusion in an ancestor of the
giant panda, the chromosomes of the giant panda are a pair of bear
chromosomes attached together. This means that the giant panda definitely
diverged from the bear line 18-25 million years ago. This is why the giant
panda has many similar physical and behavioral characteristics of bears, yet
having various features only unique to the species.

Four independent
molecular tests:
- DNA hybridization
- albumin
immunological distances
- isozyme genetic
- karyotype

Four species studied:
- Ailuropoda melanoleuca
(giant panda)
- Ailurus fulgens
(red panda)
- Urus americanus
(black bear)
- Protor lotor (raccoon)
The molecular studies
The early pandas were in competition
with other predators, like the large cats
Evolved specializations:
losing many of their carnivorous and
omnivorous traits
developing specialized adaptations
for feeding/utilizing plant foods.
What other physical adaptations do giant
pandas possess?
How do they relate to evolutionary
The next few pages will describe several anatomical adaptations that
coincided with their evolution of basic behavior (locomotion, feeding,
grooming, sleeping), interactive behavior (social play), conflict behavior
(scent marking, aggressive threat, defensive threat, fighting), sexual
behavior (pre-courtship, courtship, copulation) and parenting behavior
(caring for the cub).
Do the Locomotion!!!
Why such leisurely walking?
plenty of food
few predators
slow-nutrition diet (bamboo lacks the nutrients needed to produce a large amount of

**With plenty of this plant, the giant panda formed a greater and greater dependence on
it, causing them to adopt behaviors of conserving energy over several generations!!!
Type of
Behavior Description
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Movement Locomote Animal moves
from place to place
ll ll l ll ll l
Pacing Back and forth;
repetitive pattern
l ll ll l l l
Climb Vertical ascent or
descent into trees
l l l
Weave Animal weaves
back and forth
l l
Roll Rolls and/or twists
from side to side.
ll l l
Sit-up Animal lies on
back, then sits
ll l l ll
Here is an ethogram from examining Lun Lun and Mei Lan at the Zoo Atlanta.
As you can see, leisure walking and pacing are the two movements performed
the most while weaving and climbing occurred the least often, since no
predators are inside their zoo habitat. You will be seeing different parts of the
full ethogram throughout this presentation.
*Each interval(1-10) represents 6 minutes. Each tally
represents one minute of the activity. X means 6 minutes

Very dependent on bamboo.
-expanded their environment to
include areas saturated with bamboo
- they began to eat a great amount of
-formed dependence for the bamboo
Changed their diet from omnivorous
to herbivorous, causing many changes
-the alimentary tract for the newly
developed herbivorous diet
-sharp claws for grabbing stems
-elongated wrist bones for holding
-powerful jaws with cell-crushing
-a horny esophagus
-a gizzard-like stomach
Spends majority of the day
Type of
Behavior Description
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Food-related Eat
Feeding on
provisioned bamboo..
l l ll lll
Feeding on any other
provisioned food
(bread, vegetables,
Forage on
Feeding on bamboo
growing in enclosures
Forage on
other food
Feeding on any
vegetation growing in
Look for
Animal searches the
environment for food
l l
Drink Animal consumes
water or other liquids
As you can see, eating provisioned bamboo is the food-related activity conducted the
most with Lun Lun and Mei Lan, which makes since because giant pandas eat 26-
29lbs of bamboo a day!!!

*Each interval(1-10) represents 6 minutes. Each tally represents
one minute of the activity. X means 6 minutes

Fur grooming is a solo event.
Like to
use their forefeet to rub their
use all four limbs to scratch
use vertical surfaces to scratch
This behavior evolved from their
environment being the subtropical
bamboo woods
Use their environment for grooming
scratching themselves on trees
rolling themselves on the
bathing in the water or dirt
These actions look playful because of the giant pandas lack of

Type of
Behavior Description
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Solitary Groom self Animal engages in
washing or smoothing its
own fur or hair using
tongue or forelimbs
l l l l
Scratch Scratch self with paws
l lll l
Sleep Stays in one place and is
not alert to
environmental changes ;
closes eyes
llll x
Rest Animal stays in one
place but may be roused
easily by environmental
l lll l
Not visible Animal moves
temporarily out of view.
As you can see, the Lun Lun and Mei Lan spent the most time sleeping. When awake,
they spent the most time scratching and resting. This behavior is very common since
pandas are dependent on a plant that provides little nutrients needed for energy.

This leads to the next slide: sleeping pandas!!!
*Each interval(1-10) represents 6 minutes. Each tally represents one
minute of the activity. X means 6 minutes

Their food source lacks the
nutrients to provide the giant
panda with ample amount of
This is why pandas in the wild
sleep about 12 hours a day (14
hours for cubs), napping 2-4
hours between eatings.
Dont hibernate because they
cant obtain the needed
nutrients to sleep an entire
season without having to gather
This same environment also
provides the pandas with plenty
of trees, leading to the pandas
using the various structures for
sleeping, which they then
develop great flexibility.
Why hasnt the giant panda developed these traits?
- their environment is a dense, subtropical bamboo forest that is saturated with
bamboo and various other plants, making it very difficult for pandas to be seen by
other pandas
- the giant panda tends to avoid other giant pandas by scent marking, threatening and
fighting, all conflictive behaviors.

The giant panda is a very isolated animal, which is shown in their lack of visual signals:
Scent marking is a behavior used as
a form of establishing territory
Involves rubbing secretions from their
anal region throughout their living
The scents will either keep the
pandas separate or bring them
together (during mating season).
This behavior has continued
throughout the evolution of the giant
panda because it is needed for:
**all needed for the giant panda to
survive in its environment
You talkin to me?Aggressive and
Defensive Threatening
If scent marking doesnt seem to keep the intruder away, then
the giant panda reverts to aggressive and defensive threatening.
This kind of conflict usually occurs around mating season when
more than one male set their sights on one female, or over food,
water, toys and sleeping areas.

Type of
Behavior Description
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Aggressive Fight Animal engages in
physical conflict with
another animal in
Steal food Either by physical force
or distraction, removes
food from the vicinity of
the other animal
Bark, growl or roar( in
order of level of threat)
Foot scrape Rapid scraping of hind
feet back and forth
*Each interval(1-10) represents 6 minutes. X means 6 minutes
As you can see, the pandas spent no time acting aggressively toward each other.
This is mostly because it is a mother and her child. What comes across as fighting
is really playing, the mother teaching the cub how to defend itself.
Social play is not fighting, which leads to the
next slide: social play!!!
Social play : a friendly behavior developed to break down the social barriers
pandas construct when in isolation from fellow pandas.
This behavior has evolved, becoming more common over time as the pandas living environment
continues to shrink and the pandas come closer and closer in proximity to each other.
This behavior has continued from generation to generation because of its
need in reproduction, since it eliminates the social barrier, and in survival,
teaching how to defend itself and its cubs from predators when looking for

Type of
Behavior Description
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Social Groom others Animal engages in washing or
smoothing the fur or hair of
another animal in its
Playing Engages in interactions with
others: locomotion, climbing,
manipulating objects or other
activities that show a
relationship between two or
more interacting animals
llll lllll lll ll
Door-directed Panda at the door/gate,
behavior oriented toward food,
keeper, or bedroom area.
l ll l ll ll ll
Human-oriented Approach and observe person
closely; may interact with
human in any way
Bleat A twittering, goat-like, friendly
*Each interval(1-10) represents 6 minutes. X means 6 minutes
As you can see, the pandas spent the most time playing with each other, truly
showing how the mother teaches the cub to defend itself and sexual behaviors
This leads to the next slide: Mommy and baby!!!
Sexual Behavior
the female conducts various actions signaling that
shes about to enter into estrus (occurs once-a-year
with 2-3 days being her peak of receptivity).
Several physical changes occur: nipples and
genitals swelling and reddening, becoming restless,
rubbing, eating less and scent marking. As the time
of opportunity comes closer, she allows the male
panda to court her by letting him approach and
even follow her around.
female chooses her suitor, often choosing males her
exude masculinity: having big backs, wide faces
and being muscular.
She may solicit the male by doing a tail-up posture
the male mounts and dismounts continuously
before intromission, standing almost upright
behind the female, bleating and making facial
looks like a carnivore.

With the giant panda, these sexual
behaviors are clearly actions involved in
reproduction and will continue through
A cub is born weighing around 4-ounces, the size
of a stick of butter
What next?
The female immediately focuses on protecting the
baby for at least 8 months (at most 2 years), since
the cub is so small and an easy target for predators
nursing the cub up to 14 times a day
protecting the cub
teaching the cub survival skills.
Holding the cub
One of the most important actions of the
female during parenting
maintains the babys body temperature
creates a relationship that helps establish the
female as a teacher
Teaching the cub
another important action since the father
never meets the cub
mother teaches the cub defense and sexual
behavior through playing.

The cubs size in the expansive territory, the cold
and wet climate the environment , along with the
presence of predators, led to the female to
developing parenting behaviors to protect the
cub, continuing these actions throughout the
To help save the panda population, many natural preserves have been established, along
with laws making it illegal to poach giant pandas; in China, can get a life sentence. Scientists
continue to look for ways to improve breeding success, which makes evolutionary
psychologists work very important; by understanding the past and current behavior of the
giant panda, one can understand how the panda became the panda you see today!!!
HelpWe Need SomebodyHelp!!!
BBC: Science and Nature. 11 October 2007

Benyus, Janine M. Beastly Behaviors. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley
Publishing, 1992

Geogias Panda Project. Atlanta Fulton County Zoo, Inc. 11 October 2007

Giant Panda Behavior Research Methods. San Diego Zoo. 11 October 2007.

OBrien, Stephen J. Tears of the Cheetah: And Other Tales from Genetic Frontier. St.
Martins Press, 2003.

The End