Ah pandas: So incredibly cute, yet so incredibly rubbish as an animal.
IR: Whadya mean, "rubbish"?! What do you have against pandas? Were you involved in some sort of tragic panda-related accident as a child or something?
No, it's just that, evolutionarily speaking, pandas should have been wiped out long ago. They're fertile for about six minutes, they miscarry if they hear a loud noise, and they only eat one type of food in the wild. They're pickier eaters than Future Mrs Imaginary Reviewer's cousin! (I'm thankful we don't have to accomodate any pandas at the wedding...)
IR--Seems possible to me that, recognizing their evolutionary shortcomings, pandas evolved unspeakable cuteness to ensure they would always be highly valued and taken care of by other creatures. I think that of my cat, too. He is definitly not smart enough or strong enough to survive in the wild, but he somehow manipulates me into getting up at 5am and refilling his food dish.
That's a very good point, actually. I hadn't thought of that.
Pandas have the smallest babies in proportion to their bodies, (panda babies are about the size of the tip of your pinky finger), are constantly malnourished to the point where their milk is almost water its so weak and have to eat bamboo constantly or they pretty much starve. It is pretty fantastic that they have survived this long, they are one of the few non-ruminant raw grass eaters (Bamboo is a grass) the other amazing non-ruminant grass eater being Elephants. But I agree with jill, they must have made themselves cute to make up for it all. :)
Another odd picky eater is the Koala-- now there is an evolutionary oddity. It went from being an ominivore (bug and fruit eater) to eating only eucalyptus leaves. Since it doens't have to think about where its food comes from its brain has shrunk (over a few millennia) to the size of a peanut. However its head is still the same size, so he really is an air head (well a brain fluid filled head with a little tiny peanut brain sitting on the top of its spine, but still) Somehow evolutionarily it was better for survival that this animal become dumber. I think there is a valuble lesson in that...people could conceivably evolve to be more stupid... scary thought.
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