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Re: A question about tooth enamel and drawing dietary conclusions
David Marjanovic writes:
Well, we _would_ find out that they're much less carnivorous than the
average brown bear. It is easy to follow just from teeth how the cave
bears became more and more adapted to herbivory.
Anyone have a photo or drawing of a panda dentition handy...?
I stand corrected - their dentition IS fairly different than your average
bear (to paraphrase Yogi). See:
Although apparently the length of the digestive tract (c. 5 metres) is
considered short for something with a 75%-90% herbivorous diet.
Even with the loss of carnassial teeth, their dentition still seems to
suggest an omnivorous diet rather than a primarily herbivorous one. Who
knows? Given what little we know about pandas, they may be more omnivorous
than we think. Or perhaps they've taken herbivorous adaptations as far as
their ancestral form will allow. Then again, they could still be a 'work in
It just goes to show that even having living animals to observe doesn't
always answer all the questions. Determining exact dietry preferences for
extinct species would be even more difficult. I wonder whether tooth
microwear can be easily distinguished from post-depositional abrasion?
GIS / Archaeologist http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia http://heretichides.soffiles.com