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Re: A question about tooth enamel and drawing dietary conclusions



>   Pandas are, in fact, generalized omnivores,
> despite their fame for eating
> bamboo, which is a seasonal diet and not at all
> specific of their feeding or
> foraging behavior. Chorn & Hoffman (1978, _Mammalian
> Species_ 110) report that
> panda diets have been known to include mice, rats,
> fish, pikas, meat stolen
> from camps, but also crocuses, irises, rice-grass,
> and so forth, which makes
> their dietary range similar to black bears, for
> example.

Due to the life cycle of bamboo, it is highly unlikely
that dependency on it as a food source would evolve in
a large non-flying animal in the first place. Giant
pandas LOVE their bamboo, but when the stands die off
after seeding, they're not in dire straits. Local
populations might decline due to increased mortality,
or emigration, but the species as such won't
disappear. In fact, the hands are what really is
adapted to the grass pith component of a giant panda's
diet.

(We currently have marked reductions in some - mainly
American - bamboo-canebrake birds due to habitat
conversion which make stands at the required level of
maturity harder to find. One or two species have
possibly gone extinct - a South American dove that is
AWOL, and Bachman's Warbler, which may or may not have
been a bamboo canebrake specialist).

Regards,

Eike




        
                
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