The question "why do pandas have black and white colors?" has been on the minds of scientists for decades. Now a study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology seems to have the answers. The research was published by researchers from the University of California in Davis and the California State University in Long Beach.
Just like the mystery behind the black and white stripes of the zebra, the answers to the distinctive white and black colors of the panda may have finally surfaced. Pandas feed exclusively on bamboo shoots, and they do not breed as frequently as other species - putting them on the endangered list for extinction until recently. Scientists, however, had to analyze 39 other bear subspecies and 195 other carnivorous animals before they could arrive at the answers to the panda's unique two colors, Christian Science Monitor writes.
Why the panda has two distinctive white-and-black colors
Since pandas do not hibernate and have to cross large areas of forests and snowy mountains to obtain food all year round, scientists say they have the black color to help them blend in shady forests and the white color to help them blend in the icy snow. Researchers also say pandas have dark ears to signal aggressive warnings to possible predators while their black eye patches serve as distinctive identifications to bear/panda colleagues. Apart from camouflage and warnings to predators, it is also thought that the unique colors of the panda help in attracting mates for sexual reproduction.
Comparing the zebra with the panda in terms of distinctive colors
It is on record that zebras and pandas are the only two animals with two distinctive colors of black and white. Scientists had earlier thought that zebras have two colors to camouflage from predators, but new research found this belief to be erroneous. And that zebras have two distinctive white and black stripes to actually help it ward off irritating flies.
The panda and the zebra are not similar in any way except in that they have two distinctive white and black colors. The two animals, however, have been subjects of interests to biologists over the decades over their unique colors and how they cope in their various habitats. While the authors of the study think they have come to the final word on why the panda has white and black colors, future studies may still come up with something more substantial on this matter.