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Posted 06/28/12 11:37:03 pm
e giant panda has a black-and-white coat. Adults measure around 1.2 to 1.8 meters (4 to 6 ft) long, including a tail of about 13 cm (5.1 in), and 60 to 90 centimeters (1 ft 10 in to 2 ft 10 in) tall at the shoulder. Males can weigh up to 160 kilograms (350 lb). Females (generally 10–20% smaller than males)can weigh as little as 75 kg (170 lb) but can also weigh up to 125 kilograms (280 lb). Average adult weight is 100 to 115 kilograms (220 to 250 lb).
The giant panda has a body shape typical of bears. It has black fur on its ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, arms and shoulders. The rest of the animal's coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white, some speculate that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage in its shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings. The giant panda's thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. The giant panda has large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo.
The giant panda's paw has a "thumb" and five fingers; the "thumb" is actually a modified sesamoid bone, which helps the giant panda to hold bamboo while eating. Stephen Jay Gould discusses this feature in his book of essays on evolution and biology, The Panda's Thumb.
The giant panda's tail, measuring 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 in), is the second longest in the bear family. The longest belongs to the Sloth Bear.
The giant panda typically lives around 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity. The recorded age of the oldest captive giant panda, a female named Ming Ming, is 34.
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