The Mystery of Science and Technology: Is the Giant Panda a Bear or a Cat?

    Intern Cao xuchao

    What subject does science and technology network belong to for giant pandas? The statements of all parties are not unified. Some people call it "panda", while others call it "panda". Panda and panda, the same two Chinese characters, have different meanings because of their different arrangement positions: the former focuses on the cat and the latter on the bear. Recently, the author interviewed relevant experts, who believe that it remains to be seen whether the giant panda belongs to the cat family or Xiong Ke from the taxonomy.

    Is the giant panda a cat?

    For a long time, because we don’t know the origin of the giant panda’s name, we naturally associate it with cats. In fact, the characteristics of giant pandas are far from those of cats. Luo Guihuan, a researcher at the Institute of Natural Science History of Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained: "There is not much genetic relationship between giant pandas and cats. Many scientific evidences show that the DNA sequence of giant pandas is closer to Xiong Ke."

    Luo Guihuan said that cats are almost exclusively carnivorous mammals, which are carnivorous. The characteristics of cats are: round skull, paws, very fast running, good body flexibility and so on. There are five genera in one family of cats, namely Cat, Leopard, Lynx, Cheetah and clouded leopard.

    According to the anatomical digestive tract, physiological characteristics and species evolution of giant pandas, they belong to out-and-out carnivores, but they take bamboo as their staple food, so it seems that they should be classified as "herbivores" simply from their feeding habits. This change is mainly because in the process of evolution, the giant panda has evolved into an omnivore that mainly eats bamboo. In addition to bamboo, giant pandas also eat fish, small animals, plants and honey, and are not exclusive to sugar cane, eggs, apples and spinach.

    At present, the ancestors of most carnivores lived about 12 million years ago in an animal called the little bone cat, which looks like the raccoon we see today. At present, dogs, cats, Xiong Ke animals, and Huanxiong animals all have a common ancestor, namely, small-boned cats. These animals are similar in many aspects, but they have evolved independently from each other in the future. Therefore, it is possible for giant pandas to share a common ancestor with bears and cats.

    Is the giant panda a bear?

    Many foreign scholars are keen to classify giant pandas as Xiong Ke animals. Abroad, its English name is "panda" or "giant panda", while its German and Russian names are "bamboo bear". In 1870, Gelve, a French zoologist, studied the length of the giant panda’s intracranial shape, brain shape, skull, tooth shape, auditory vesicle, ear bone, kidney, serum, foot shape and tail, and put forward the view that the giant panda belongs to Xiong Ke. This view has been recognized by many scientists. In the middle and late 20th century, western scholars deduced that giant pandas were separated from bears. At present, many schools still insist that the giant panda belongs to Xiong Ke, saying that the giant panda is a highly specialized bear.

    In addition to the above two schools, there are people who hold a third opinion in academic circles. They hold that the giant panda is neither affiliated with Xiong Ke nor Huanxiong Family, but should establish a giant panda family alongside Xiong Ke and Huanxiong Family. There is only one species of giant panda in this family, and most of them are Chinese scholars. This is because there are many differences between giant pandas and bears or raccoons, and judging these differences is highly subjective.

    Dr. Jiang Zhigang, from the Wildlife Behavior Group of the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: "Although the snout of giant pandas is shorter than that of Xiong Ke animals, their bones are thicker than those of bears, and their waist and pelvis are obviously relatively large. However, there are still many similar characteristics between them, such as miscellaneous eating habits, large size, heavy body, poor vision, sensitive sense of smell, etc., but these characteristics do not mean that giant pandas belong to Xiong Ke animals. "

    Jiang Zhigang, for example, said, "Humans and chimpanzees belong to the same primate, and the difference in DNA between them is only 1.6%, which is far less than that of many other animals belonging to the same genus. Should people and chimpanzees belong to the same family as the family of Oratoridae or Anthropoceae? This is not the case, so although giant pandas belong to carnivores like Xiong Ke animals, they cannot be simply classified into the same family. "

    Where does the giant panda really belong?

    At present, it is impossible to make a conclusion as to what family the giant panda belongs to.

    Luo Guihuan pointed out: "Taxonomists still lack a consistent understanding of species standards. Darwin’s theory of biological evolution was born in the mid-19th century. He believed that biology developed gradually from simple to complex, from low to high. Linnaeus’ taxonomy of species was born in the middle of the 18th century, and it has not been exposed to Darwin’s advanced theory. Linnaeus thinks that species are unchangeable, and his taxonomy of species does not emphasize the genetic relationship between populations. As a result, his taxonomy is not perfect, and it can be said that it is a taxonomy that is greatly influenced by human factors. Different standards of classification naturally lead to different classification results. " In order to facilitate scientific research, better identify the evolutionary system and understand the essence of life, China introduced various species classification systems, such as the German engler Natural Classification System.

    Jiang Zhigang also pointed out: "At present, Linnaeus’s species classification is still in use, but it is not perfect. It is a scientific question to which family the giant panda belongs. The establishment of the Giant Panda Family is only a relative solution to the problem of giant panda taxonomy, and it is a relatively arduous scientific topic to find out the pedigree of giant pandas. "

Editor: Li Xiuwei