Chinese scientists caution against European origin theory for Giant Pandas

Sang Yarong China Plus Published: 2017-11-08 15:54:30
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Chinese scientists are stepping up to urge caution in trying to develop an origin story of the Giant Panda.

Debate about where today's modern pandas originated from is underway again, after a Canadian paleoanthropologist recently discovered 10 million-year-old teeth belonging to a species of panda in Hungary.

An article in New Scientist magazine suggests these fossilized teeth could be evidence that giant pandas originated in Europe.

However, Chinese scientists point out that it's too early to jump to such a conclusion, the Beijing News reports.

A screenshot of an article about new panda fossils found in Hungary in New Scientist magazine. [Photo: newscientist.com]

A screenshot of an article about new panda fossils found in Hungary in New Scientist magazine. [Photo: newscientist.com]

The article notes the fossils found in Hungary are 2 million years older than those found in Yunnan Province in the 1980s, suggesting this supports the hypothesis that the giant panda's first ancestors might have migrated to China from Europe.

The research team looking at the new discovery says they could be from a distant relative, a "cousin," of the modern giant panda.

"One or two newly-found fossils are not enough to decide where giant pandas originated from. More evidence is needed," said Zhang Jinshuo, researcher from the Institute of Zoology with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"A lot of places around the world may have seen traces of giant pandas in the evolutionary process of animals, so it's not unusual to find panda fossils in places except for China," said Zhang. However, he says "it's too early to say giant pandas originated in Europe."

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