The iconic black and white stripes of the giant panda make it one of the most recognisable animals on the planet.
Yet despite this scientists have, until now, had absolutely no definitive explanation as to why pandas are black and white.
Well now a study has found an explanation and it’s far more sophisticated than you might think.
The team from California State University initially tried to cross-reference the panda’s stripes with the markings of 195 carnivore species and 39 bear subspecies to see if there were any similarities. There were none.
They then tried to find a correlation between the panda’s stripes and its local temperature changes. Again, they found no correlation. Finally they even tried correlating the panda’s eye spots with the amount of light glare they could experience in their natural habitat. Again, no similarities.
What they did find however was a connection between the panda’s lighter colours and snow cover.
A giant panda experiences two very different seasons during its life. Firstly there’s the snowy winter where white is a powerful ally against predators.
Then in the summer months the black helps protect the panda in the forest when it’s likely to be attacked by leopards.
Why the eyes? Well the scientists think the eyes serve no camouflage purpose at all but are in fact a form of identification.
Every day’s a school day.