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Giant pandas gave bamboo the thumbs up at least six million years ago


Still Waters
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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

When is a thumb not a thumb? When it's an elongated wrist bone of the giant panda used to grasp bamboo. Through its long evolutionary history, the panda's hand has never developed a truly opposable thumb and instead evolved a thumb-like digit from a wrist bone, the radial sesamoid. This unique adaptation helps these bears subsist entirely on bamboo despite being bears (members of the order Carnivora, or meat-eaters).

https://phys.org/news/2022-06-pandas-gave-bamboo-thumbs-million.html

In a new paper published in Scientific Reports, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Xiaoming Wang and colleagues report on the discovery of the earliest bamboo-eating ancestral panda to have this "thumb." Surprisingly, it's longer than its modern descendants.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-13402-y

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