Ancient pandas battled with giant apes for food resources

December 30th, 2007 - 2:03 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of National Geographic

Washington, Dec 30 (ANI): Ancient pandas competed with the largest known apes for habitat and food nearly half a million years ago on the tropical coast of southern China, suggest new fossils.

The findings were based on a study, led by Huang Wanbo, a palaeontologist at Beijing’s Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Paleoanthropology, which uncovered 400,000-year-old fossils of a giant panda alongside the remains of a titan-sized, ancient ape called Gigantopithecus blacki.

The fossils, which were excavated from a limestone cave on the island province of Hainan suggest that both the giant pandas and the Giganto apes survived on a mostly bamboo diet, reports National Geographic.

Wanbo said that he believes the ape, which became extinct about 300,000 years ago, lost out in a three-way struggle with giant pandas and early humans over food and habitat.

Scientists said that the earliest pandas were fierce carnivores.

They added that the new fossils suggested that the panda of 400,000 years ago, which was slightly larger than the modern giant panda, had by that time already become completely dependent on bamboo for survival.

Wanbo said that pandas were traditionally hunted for their pelts, and this may have been the case as far back as several hundred thousand years ago. (ANI)

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