Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Landmark in Panda Evolution Discovered

American and Chinese researchers have found a skull, estimated at 2M years old, of the smaller ancestor of today's beloved giant panda. University of Iowa anthropologist Russell Ciochon, best known for his work on the mammoth prehistoric ape Gigantopithecus, said the "pygmy giant panda" was probably about three feet long, vs. the average of five feet for the modern panda.
(A poster on the cryptozoology blog Cryptomundo asked a whimsical, yet seemingly reasonable question: whether a "pygmy giant panda" would sort of even out to be just a "regular panda.")


Darren Naish said...

Here is my take on this. The 'original' panda is not the Giant panda Ailuropoda, but the small Lesser or Red panda Ailurus. Any close relative of Ailuropoda is therefore, by definition, a giant panda, and not just a panda. So a small relative of Ailuropoda is still a giant panda.. even if it's actually small. Err, does that make sense?

Matt Bille said...

Well put, Darren. It was still a good question, though.