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panda defence
October 16, 2010 6:32 AM   Subscribe

The panda: surprisingly good at life - "New research has revealed that, contrary to popular beliefs, pandas are surprisingly well-equipped for survival." (via ners)
posted by kliuless (35 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Mmmmmmm, panda pudding....
posted by pompomtom at 6:49 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a lot of experience with Pandas. I quickly learned that you should never say no to a Panda.
posted by WhiteWhale at 6:52 AM on October 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


Interestingly, when geneticists sequenced the panda’s entire genome in 2009, they found a messed-up gene that means they probably can’t taste flesh

And, once we get this into the general population, zombie apocalypse averted!

One more win for science!

Which totally makes up for creating the zombies in the first place.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:54 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uh, all animals are adapted to living. Or they wouldn't be living.
posted by empath at 7:01 AM on October 16, 2010 [12 favorites]


Thanks, empath. I'm no evolutionary biologist, but I was thinking exactly the same thing.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:11 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


...most intriguingly, the handstand, an exclusively male position that can leave urine sprinkled on the bark of a tree at more than a metre off the ground...researchers found that...The higher up a tree an upside-down male can wee, the bigger and tougher he’s likely to be.

This must be why my roommates are totally giving me grief after that party last night. Jealousy!

Also: Wee?
posted by PlusDistance at 7:18 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're goodish at cute. But they've been coasting for some time. How about some other critters, like, say, the binturong, which I just bring up becauase they're sort of hilarious.
posted by biddeford at 7:41 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


My link disappeared.
posted by biddeford at 7:44 AM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pandas just are a bit specialized, and they used to do quite badly in zoos. Many animals do not adjust wellto zoo life. Would you want to reroduce in a zoo? With a mate not of your choosing?
Would you then want your future offspring in that situation?
Animals are not stupid. If they don't like their surroundings they don't make babies. The fact pandas are doing better in captivity is because of research which has led to better conditions for the pandas in captivity. The same goes for other animals, meet their needs and they will do alright. They might even make and raise babies.
If only humans displayed thatuch sense!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:11 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, you mean animals can survive without human meddling? Now, there's a shock...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:37 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


None of this should really come as a surprise; after all, the panda’s peculiar reproductive strategy has served it well for millions of years. But what is surprising is that the secret of this success comes down to their sense of smell. It turns out that pandas have “scent posts” dotted throughout the forest, trees that act as community bulletin boards on which passing individuals leave all sorts of messages alongside, overlapping or completely covering the others.

I'm enjoying the idea of stinky "for a good time call Ling Ling" poles scattered throughout the Chinese jungle.
posted by phunniemee at 8:38 AM on October 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


any animals do not adjust wellto zoo life. Would you want to reroduce in a zoo? With a mate not of your choosing?

Oh dear God. You've just unlocked a fetish I would never have expected to have.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:12 AM on October 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


I translated a report a while back on panda populations in the Qinling mountains; apparently one recent problem has been a lack of diversity in the gene pool as populations get isolated in small pockets of habitat cut off from others by human incursion. There's a project under way to create corridors linking up the surviving habitats, so the hand-standing tree-pissers can potentially get it on with a wider range of partners.
posted by Abiezer at 9:23 AM on October 16, 2010


This post sucks.

(...all the darkness out of my day. Really interesting, thanks!)
posted by nevercalm at 9:52 AM on October 16, 2010


Oh dear God. You've just unlocked a fetish I would never have expected to have.

Have you not read Slaughterhouse Five?
posted by empath at 10:01 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems like what they're not "good at" is adapting to environments other than the one they've become so highly tuned to. Some species are more special-purpose than others. The ultra-specialists have been the first to go when conditions on Earth have changed in the past, and they're also the most vulnerable to extinction as humans change the conditions today. Keeping them alive is probably going to be harder than less picky critters, like raccoons.
posted by Xezlec at 10:02 AM on October 16, 2010


Doesn't this really all hinge on the definition of their environment? I mean obviously they're NOT that great at surviving on an earth where humans exist. If you remove enough of the negative variables, any animal can be great at surviving.
posted by thorny at 10:11 AM on October 16, 2010


If you remove enough of the negative variables

Anything that removes six-billion-plus humans is probably going to fuck over pandas pretty hard as well.
posted by Cyrano at 10:40 AM on October 16, 2010


Steven Jay Gould wrote a great essay called "The Panda's Thumb." The point was that evolutionary design doesn't have to be great, just good enough. The thumb in question is a weirdly distended carpal bone that just kind of opposes the panda's paw. Ergo: pandas are cool.
posted by Trochanter at 11:07 AM on October 16, 2010


Video of the the marking behavior

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tree to find and some stretching to do.
posted by goHermGO at 11:12 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, in other words, while the cute pandas are happily munching away on the bamboo, the only thing keeping them from ripping my still-beating heart out and eating it is that they just don't feel like it much?
posted by tommasz at 11:39 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, good at life, but surprisingly bad at BMX.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


most intriguingly, the handstand, an exclusively male position that can leave urine sprinkled on the bark of a tree...The higher up a tree an upside-down male can wee, the bigger and tougher he’s likely to be

This is fascinating. Apparently dogs have something similar going on w/re the heights of their urine-marks-- which goes a long way toward explaining stuff like this.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:08 PM on October 16, 2010


It seems like what they're not "good at" is adapting to environments other than the one they've become so highly tuned to.

Are you sure? Here in Ottawa we have urban pandas knocking over my trash cans. They came over in a shipment of bamboo garden stakes and now they're everywhere.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:11 PM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Having watched goHermGO's video, I have more thoughts on the peeing thing:

I wonder if there's some sort of evolutionary trade-off going on w/re the orientation of the panda's wang. It would seem that the greater the angle of the penis in relation to the animal's torso, the more height he could achieve when marking; however, if the angle becomes too great, it would probably hamper his ability to successfully copulate.

Please, somebody stop me before I try to write a grant proposal about this.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:21 PM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


The higher up a tree an upside-down male can wee, the bigger and tougher he’s likely to be.

Wait, did I trip through one of those time portals and wind up back in the Pynchon song thread?
posted by mannequito at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2010


Animals are not stupid.

Citation, please.


Also:

I mean obviously they're NOT that great at surviving on an earth where humans exist.

Who the hell is?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:15 PM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Citation, please.

Shit on the ground, see in the dark.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:12 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, new research has revealed that I'm surprisingly ill-equipped for survival.

This research involved watching me try to boil water for Ramen noodles, forgetting about the water until it boiled away, and then going to bed without eating.

To be published in Depressing Animal Behaviour this November.
posted by dgaicun at 5:44 PM on October 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


I feel like one of the only humans on the planet that isn't crazy about pandas. Now that I've learned about their urine soaked ears, I feel vindicated.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:56 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


tommasz writes "So, in other words, while the cute pandas are happily munching away on the bamboo, the only thing keeping them from ripping my still-beating heart out and eating it is that they just don't feel like it much?"

More like they think you are about as tasty as a legal pad.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 PM on October 16, 2010


I'm drunk on panda mystery!
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 7:41 PM on October 16, 2010


Yeah, good at life, but surprisingly bad at BMX

that doesn't actually surprise me...
posted by russm at 10:22 PM on October 16, 2010


Ha! Of course pandas are brilliant. Isn't it obvious? They secretly infected six billion humans with a cuteness meme that forces us to give them free food, shelter and sex.
posted by storybored at 7:59 AM on October 17, 2010


Mike Birbiglia disagrees.
posted by livejamie at 3:17 PM on October 18, 2010


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