Don’t Trust Hippies; Don’t Trust Bears. Definitely Don’t Trust Hippie Bears.

The better question is: What makes you think they ever did?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827893.900-how-the-giant-panda-lost-i…

          How the giant panda lost its taste for flesh

HOW did the giant panda lose its taste for flesh? The answer may lie in the gene that codes for the umami taste receptor.

It seems that pandas have an inactive version of the Tas1r1 gene that allows us to taste umami, say Jianzhi Zhang at the University of Michigan and his colleagues.

They discovered that Tas1r1 stopped working about 4.2 million years ago. Fossil records show that ancestors of the giant pandas swapped meat for bamboo between 7 and 2 million years ago. The team suspects the bears were caught out by environmental changes that wiped out a lot of their prey. When pandas changed diets the Tas1r1 gene became obsolete and, without it, they might not have wanted to eat meat even when it became plentiful.

But there’s a catch. Error bars in dating mean it is difficult to say which went first: the meat, or the panda’s taste for it.

Advertisements

About dilaceratus

Encaustic Artist
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s