Panda Markings

Pandas are one of the most beloved creatures on Earth, and it is easy to understand why. These cute and fluffy critters, in addition to consuming more than 30 pounds of bamboo a day, also helped many other animals preserve their habitats. But people rarely think about why these bears are so cute to us. One of the main reason behind this is their markings. The markings on panda bears are highly specific.

Plain black and white markings can be found on only a handful of species like penguins, zebras, and snakes. These black and white markings all serve a specific purpose. For example, birds use them to attract their mates, and because of this, during evolution, the birds with the more colorful or contrasting patterns attract potential mates easier. The stripes found on zebras are there in order to help them in their battle against flies and their bites. But these occurrences are fairly rare. Most mammals, this is especially true for carnivores, have uniform coloring. Polar bears, black bears, and brown bears all have fur that is just one color. This is very helpful when they need to conceal themselves and blend in with their surroundings.


Scientists from a Californian research facility have recently come up with some interesting ideas as to why pandas have black and white patterns on their fur. The black and white markings have different uses during different parts of the year. Pandas, like white bears, do not hibernate like their other forest cousins. Because of this, the white fur is useful during winter times, and the black fur is more useful during the warmer parts of the year. The polar bear also does not hibernate, but as they live surrounded by snow, white fur is more than adequate. Black and brown bears sleep during winter time, so their fur is not a dead giveaway against the snow-covered surroundings. Pandas, on the other hand, do not hibernate. The bamboo that they consume is nowhere near nutritious enough to sustain them through long periods of time without food. Because of this, pandas spend every waking hour looking for their next meal. So their white and black fur serve specific purposes.

The black markings around the panda’s eyes have an even more specific purpose. They are used for communication. The patches around a panda’s eyes are specific, almost as much as fingerprints in humans. The individual bears identify one another using these marks. Another role these marks serve is for intimidation. They enlarge the panda’s eyes and make them appear more aggressive. Scientists also noticed that the bears attempt to hide their faces when trying to appear less scary when interacting with other bears and humans.

There is a chance that these findings are incorrect. There is the possibility that pandas have the circles around their eyes for some completely unrelated reason. Bears mostly have fairly poor vision and the way in which they see other panda bears may be completely different from the way that people see them. Color vision, or the lack of it, is common amongst carnivores, and there is no way to tell how this affects the way pandas see camouflage or markings that appear to be intimidating. The black and white fur of the panda bear is really helpful as both animals that see in full color, and animals that see only in greyscale can spot them easily.

In conclusion, it is obvious to everyone that panda bears are peculiar animals. Everything from their diet to the way they behave with their babies and humans is uncommon. But for those exact reasons they are also one of the most beloved species on Earth.

Editor's Picks

As her name suggests, Jenna Small stands little over 4ft tall. Being petite and blonde, many often underestimate her talent. As a result, she spent her entire life working twice as hard to prove that she was the best. Now an established geologist, she does not beat around the bush when it comes to her work. Her research has been published and used in schools throughout the region. She often states that her most significant accomplishment was choosing to better herself through a solid education. When she is not busy unearthing new findings, she volunteers as a motivational speaker to girls who have been victims of bullying, discrimination, or harassment.

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