Researchers have discovered that lazy panda bears with a body equipped for eating meat survive on a diet consisting bamboo only. A recent study on panda metabolism reveals that they have exceptionally low daily energy requirements – enabling them to survive only on a diet of just bamboo! The study, published in the journal Science, explains how the energy expenditure of the giant panda is as sluggish as that of sloths.
The Researchers tracked five captive pandas and three wild pandas and recorded their daily energy expenditure (DEE).
The study claims that the ‘giant pandas’ energy measurements are among the lowest – relative to body mass, ever made for mammals. Surprisingly, the daily energy expenditure values for giant pandas are even substantially lower than those for koalas, for example, and more akin to those of three-toed sloths”.
Researchers concluded that pandas are far less active than bears. The panda’s brains, livers and kidneys of the were found to be quite smaller than those in other bears – leading to lower energy demands. And that’s not the only factor playing a role. Research also revealed that the thyroid hormone levels of these giant pandas are startlingly low – comparable to a hibernating black bear. A gene variation in pandas causes underactive thyroids. Since, the thyroid hormones play a key role in regulating body weight and energy, thus their low levels have been held responsible for sluggishness in giant pandas.
Thus, the study concludes that small organs, genetic adaptations and take-it-easy attitude allow the massive pandas to remain contented with the meager diet of bamboo.