The study, led by biologist Fuwen Wei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Zoology in Beijing, found the daily energy expenditure of the bears was just 38 per cent compared with similar-sized animals.
Panda brains, livers and kidneys were also found to be smaller than the organs seen in other bears. With their low metabolism, the researchers said, the panda needs its coat of thick fur to retain body heat in order to keep warm.
“However, it is not only their low activity that contributes to their low metabolism; the metabolic rate of an active panda is still lower than a completely stationary human”.
A key to the panda’s remarkably low metabolism is the fact that it boasts extremely low levels of thyroid hormones, most likely due to a mutation in a gene called DUOX2 involved in thyroid hormone synthesis, the researchers said.
“Using Global Positioning System loggers attached to pandas we discovered that they rest for more than half of the day and on average, only travelled at 20 metres an hour”.
The findings help explain how giant pandas can survive on a low-cal, nutrient-poor diet of hard-to-digest bamboo.
The permanently threatened panda update will be the single one of one’s worldwide eight abide growers with the use of a plant diet plan.
But taken together, the bears’ small organs, genetic adaptations and take-it-easy attitude allow them to survive on bamboo, concluded the study.
A party was thrown on Thursday in Sichuan Province, southwest China, to celebrate the 10th birthday for Taishan, an American-born giant panda. According to the State Forestry Administration, there were 1,864 giant pandas left in the wild and 375 in captivity by the end of 2013.