Ancient humans in what is now China put panda on their plates, says Wei Guangbiao head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology. Guangbiao found tell-tale cut marks on panda bones that suggested the animals were “slashed to death by man,” according to the Associated Press.
“In primitive times, people wouldn’t kill animals that were useless to them,” Guangbiao told the Chongqing Morning Post. Therefore, he concludes the pandas were destined for the dinner table.
The pandas of that region were smaller than the giant pandas we know today, according to Guangbiao.
In modern times, the giant panda is still important to China, but not as a protein source. The black and white bruins are protected by the Chinese government. Habitat loss and a shrinking genetic pool are serious threats to the long-term survival of the approximately 1,600 pandas remaining in the wild. Another 300 pandas live in captivity, many of them in China’s breeding program.
Since pandas are no longer on the menu, the question remains… Was their meat light, dark, or banded like their coats?
The giant panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca (Jcwf from nl, Wikimedia Commons)