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Panda Updates – Wednesday, December 11

When giant pandas are kicked back eating, they can often be found sitting on their rears, with their front paws available for eating. Giant pandas are able to sit this way while they eat because they have a pseudothumb. The pseudothumb is a unique, sixth digit that is an extension of the giant pandas’ wrist bones. It doesn’t bend like our thumbs, but it creates a nook for bamboo (or leafeater biscuits) to sit in so that they are able to wrap their paws around things and grab them. Other bear species don’t sit back and eat the way giant pandas do because they are unable to reach out and grab things as easily. Interestingly enough, all bear species used to have a pseudothumb, but the giant panda is the only bear that retained the trait as it evolved into surviving on an almost primarily bamboo diet. Other bear species rely more on their mouths and claws to obtain and manipulate food items.

Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals

(photo by Danica W.)

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