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Study unravels mystery of how pandas became vegetarians around six million years ago

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Scientists have found the earliest fossil evidence of a thumb-like sixth digit utilized by giant pandas to grip bamboo stems, an advance that means the bear’s vegetarian food plan can have originated at the least six million years ago.

A greatly enlarged wrist bone called the radial sesamoid was discovered in fossils in southwest China’s Yunnan province dating back to about six million years, in response to research published within the journal Scientific Reports.

The findings make clear how the enormous panda species developed a “false thumb” which enabled it to to grip and break heavy bamboo stems, turning it into the one dedicated vegetarian within the bear family, said researchers, including those from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

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