Researchers in China and the UK’s University of Aberdeen have revealed a new characteristic about China’s beloved bear. Based on samples collected from five captive pandas at Beijing Zoo, and three wild ones at Foping Nature Reserve in Shaanxi province, the scientists determined pandas bears are lazy bears.
The research, published in the Journal Science, found that wild pandas rested for more than half of any given day. When they do move it is at a rate of just 65 feet per hour (20 meters per hour). Other bears are known to be far more active.
Scientists have long wondered how such a large animal can live just eating bamboo; they now know – the animals don’t move around a lot. Pandas also have a relatively smaller brain, liver and kidneys compared to other bears and its thick fur also prevents its body heat from running off, which allows them to eat less to survive.
The study suggests that pandas’ laziness is most likely due to a genetic mutation in a gene called DUOX2, which gives them extremely low levels of thyroid hormones. In both animals and humans, thyroid hormones are produced in the thyroid gland near the throat which is controlled by the brain.
Thyroid hormones are important for regulating body weight and energy, and low levels can lead to sluggishness.
Story compiled with information from CCTV News.