Prehistoric panda discovery in China


This 18 June 2018 video is called Oldest Known Giant Panda Fossil Found In China.

From ScienceDaily:

22,000-year-old panda from cave in Southern China belongs to distinct, long-lost lineage

June 18, 2018

Researchers who’ve analyzed ancient mitochondrial (mt)DNA isolated from a 22,000-year-old panda found in Cizhutuo Cave in the Guangxi Province of China — a place where no pandas live today — have revealed a new lineage of giant panda. The report, published in Current Biology on June 18, shows that the ancient panda separated from present-day pandas 144,000 to 227,000 years ago, suggesting that it belonged to a distinct group not found today.

The newly sequenced mitochondrial genome represents the oldest DNA evidence from pandas.

“Using a single complete mtDNA sequence, we find a distinct mitochondrial lineage, suggesting that the Cizhutuo panda, while genetically more closely related to present-day pandas than other bears, has a deep, separate history from the common ancestor of present-day pandas”, says Qiaomei Fu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “This really highlights that we need to sequence more DNA from ancient pandas to really capture how their genetic diversity has changed through time and how that relates to their current, much more restricted and fragmented habitat.”

Very little has been known about pandas’ past, especially in regions outside of their current range in Shaanxi province or Gansu and Sichuan provinces. Evidence suggests that pandas in the past were much more widespread, but it’s been unclear how those pandas were related to pandas of today.

In the new study, the researchers used sophisticated methods to fish mitochondrial DNA from the ancient cave specimen. That’s a particular challenge because the specimen comes from a subtropical environment, which makes preservation and recovery of DNA difficult.

The researchers successfully sequenced nearly 150,000 DNA fragments and aligned them to the giant panda mitochondrial genome reference sequence to recover the Cizhutuo panda’s complete mitochondrial genome. They then used the new genome along with mitochondrial genomes from 138 present-day bears and 32 ancient bears to construct a family tree.

Their analysis shows that the split between the Cizhutuo panda and the ancestor of present-day pandas goes back about 183,000 years. The Cizhutuo panda also possesses 18 mutations that would alter the structure of proteins across six mitochondrial genes. The researchers say those amino acid changes may be related to the ancient panda’s distinct habitat in Guangxi or perhaps climate differences during the Last Glacial Maximum.

The findings suggest that the ancient panda’s maternal lineage had a long and unique history that differed from the maternal lineages leading to present-day panda populations. The researchers say that their success in capturing the mitochondrial genome also suggests that they might successfully isolate and analyze DNA from the ancient specimen’s much more expansive nuclear genome.

“Comparing the Cizhutuo panda’s nuclear DNA to present-day genome-wide data would allow a more thorough analysis of the evolutionary history of the Cizhutuo specimen, as well as its shared history with present-day pandas”, Fu says.

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Redstarts, other birds in Wolong, China


This 2008 video says about itself:

Join Animal Planet for Pandamonium, a brand new series that lets us experience the incredible lives of the giant pandas of the Wolong Panda Reserve in China.

The centre is now opening up its remarkable work to the world, giving us the chance to meet the dedicated team that works tirelessly to ensure the survival of this highly endangered species.

Pandas can have a hard time starting a family, so extraordinary efforts are being made to help them breed, using artificial insemination as well as encouraging natural mating.

Watch as tiny panda cubs are born and follow their progress. Each birth is vital to the survival of the species and often hits the headlines around the globe. Thanks to the pioneering research of their scientists, the Wolong Centre has brought 16 cubs into the world over the past year.

But what will the future hold for these unique and lovable black and white bears?

Very soon after this video was recorded, there was the catastrophic May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake; which hit the Wolong Panda Reserve and its surroundings particularly hard.

This video says about itself:

Wolong Earthquake Video from Pandas International

A brief but touching documentary of the damage done to the Wolong Reserve in China after the devastating earthquake of May 2008.

The panda reserve had to move to Gengda, 23 kilometers away.

This January 2013 video is called Crew travels up the long, bumpy road from Chengdu to Wolong.

Though there has been reconstruction at Wolong village, there are still ruins from the 2008 earthquake.

This is a 2007 video about the bridge at Wolong village. The bridge and the river are still there.

After arriving in Wolong from our journey from Chengdu on 7 April 2018, we walked to the bridge at 17:25.

There were rosy pipits there.

This is a 2012 video about a rosy pipit (at one point disturbed by a yellow wagtail).

Then, we saw a blue-fronted redstart.

This is a 2016 blue-fronted redstart video from Thailand.

A rufous-breasted accentor in Wolong.

This is a 2014 rufous-breasted accentor video.

This video shows a Daurian redstart male.

We saw a Daurian redstart in Wolong too.

And its relative, a white-capped water redstart.

This is a 2015 white-capped water redstart video from Thailand.

More Wolong birds; a brown-breasted bulbul.

This is a 2013 brown-breasted bulbul video from Thailand.

We walked along the pond, which used to be part of the panda sanctuary before the 2008 earthquake. Now, there are many pondskaters.

Stay tuned, as there will be more: on the mountains above Wolong and their wildlife!

Cute animals, 68 minutes video


This video says about itself:

8 November 2016

Cute Animals Videos Compilation – The Cutest Red Panda, Kittens, Goslings, Red Squirrel, Birds and More

Filmed and Edited by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

23 baby giant pandas, video


This video from China says about itself:

23 Baby Pandas Make Debut at southwest China Breeding Base

29 sep. 2016

Twenty-three giant panda cubs made their public debut at a panda base in southwest China’s Chengdu City on Thursday, offering the cutest scene one can imagine.

The baby pandas, aged one to four months, were all born at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding this year.

“I think this is just about the cutest thing in the entire world. I never imagine there will be so many baby pandas in one place,” said a U.S. tourist named Aaron.

“I thought they were toys because they were lying there motionless. Then I realized they were cute baby pandas,” said Zheng Shuo, a tourist from central China’s Hunan Province.

This year, experts from the base also witnessed the birth of another four pandas overseas, raising the total number of the base’s newborn pandas to 27, a rare record since the establishment of the base.

The number of this year’s newborn pandas at the base has almost doubled that last year. Experts attribute this to the improvement in breeding technology.

“We used to mate the pandas by observing their behaviors to decide the timing for mating. But now we combine behavior observation with endocrine analysis to get more accurate timing, thus ensuring a fairly high breeding rate,” said Wu Kongju, animal management director at the base.

What’s more, among the 27 newborn pandas there are 10 pairs of twins, accounting for 74 percent of the total.

Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the base has bred 176 giant pandas, the world’s largest artificially-bred giant panda population.

Read more here.

Learning giant panda language in China


This video says about itself:

Giant panda bears in the forest – David AttenboroughBBC wildlife

4 April 2008

Giant panda bears are the only known bear to be active during the winter months. See rare footage of them in the wild with the help of spy-cam.

From Tech Times:

Scientists In China Decode ‘Language’ Of Giant Panda

By Katherine Derla

November 7, 1:12 AM

Chinese scientists who studied the language of giant pandas at a conservation center in the Sichuan province were able to decipher 13 different vocalizations. Researchers found that male giant pandas make ‘baa’ sounds like a sheep when wooing mate. The female giant pandas then respond by making bird-like sounds (chirping) when they’re interested.

Baby pandas (cubs) make ‘wow-wow’ sounds when they’re sad. When they’re hungry, the make ‘gee-gee’ sounds to prompt their mothers into action. Cubs also say ‘coo-coo’ which translate to ‘nice’ in human language.

The research team recorded the giant pandas‘ vocalizations in various scenarios which included nursing the cubs, fighting and eating to analyze the voiceprints.

“Trust me – our researchers were so confused when we began the project, they wondered if they were studying a panda, a bird, a dog, or a sheep,” said China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda head Zhang Hemin, who lead the study. The research team has been analyzing panda linguistics since 2010.

Panda cubs learn to bark, shout, chirp, and squeak to express what they want. The researchers found that adult giant pandas are typically unsocial animals, making their mothers the only language teacher they ever had. When a mother panda won’t stop making bird-like sounds (chirping), she could be worried about her cubs. Like a dog, she barks when a stranger goes near her babies. In general, barking can be translated as “get out of my place.”

Understanding how giant pandas communicate can be valuable in their conservation, especially in their natural habitat in the wild. Findings coupled with conservation efforts will benefit future generations. Looking forward, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda is looking into the creation of a “panda translator” using a voice-recognition software.

In the ocean, bottlenose dolphins and calves whistle to call each other when they’re out of visual contact: Mom calls Junior using his signature whistle, and he echoes it back in acknowledgement. In the Venezuelan jungle, when green-rumped parrotlets and their offspring get separated, they do the same thing as the dolphins: here.

China’s reforestation efforts have led to an increase in tree cover by 32 percent but the increase mostly comes from people turning former croplands into tree plantations with only one type of tree, which is of little value to wildlife. Likewise, native forests actually decreased by 6 percent because people continued to clear native forests to make way for tree plantations: here.

Giant panda news update


This video is called Life of Giant Pandas – Full Documentary.

From Associated Press today:

China’s latest survey finds increase in wild giant pandas

BEIJING — Wild giant pandas in China are doing well.

The latest census by China’s State Forestry Administration shows the panda population has grown by 268 to a total of 1,864 since the last survey ending in 2003.

Nearly three quarters of the pandas live in the southwestern province of Sichuan. The remaining pandas have been found in the neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

“The rise in the population of wild giant pandas is a victory for conservation and definitely one to celebrate,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation for World Wildlife Fund.

Hemley credited efforts by the Chinese government for the increase. The survey shows 1,246 wild giant pandas live within nature reserves. There are 67 panda reserves in China, an increase of 27 since the last survey.

“The survey result demonstrates the effectiveness of nature reserves in boosting wild giant panda numbers,” said Xiaohai Liu, executive program director for WWF-China.

But the survey also points to economic development as a main threat to the rare animal. It says 319 hydropower stations and 1,339 kilometers (832 miles) of roads have been built in the giant panda’s habitat.

WWF said it is the first time that large-scale infrastructure projects such as mining and railroads get referenced in the survey. Traditional threats such as poaching are on the decline, WWF noted.

China began surveying its giant pandas in the 1970s. The latest census began in 2011 and took three years to complete.

The number of giant pandas in captivity grew by 211, more than double the previous survey figure, according to the census released Saturday.