When you think of most bears, the first thought that likely comes to your mind is a big, fat “NOPE.” These creatures are terrifying, eating meat and stomping around in their large bodies ready to lay the smack-down on whatever comes their way. Of course, when you think of a panda bear, you get a completely different image. Offering a cute and cuddly appearance, these docile bears offer some lovable categories that anyone can recognize.
In the April Global Ecology and Conservation, conservation biologists at the San Diego Zoo led by Megan Owen report a new study conducted on pandas that reveal a surprising “superpower.” Using five zoo pandas that have been trained to nose a target after hearing sound, the team decided to run a test on their hearing to see just how well they could really hear. In the testing, both the male and female pandas were able to hear “silent” sounds that are produced from dog whistles. While the polar bear has been tested in a similar fashion, it is important to note that it could not hear anywhere near this level of acuity.
One of the first things that people think about when they consider pandas is bamboo. More specifically, pandas get the large majority of their energy from eating bamboo throughout the day. Despite the fact these animals have a straight digestion track like a carnivore, they subsist almost entirely from this vegetable. In fact, they eat up to 30 pounds (or sometimes more) of this bamboo a day. As a result, they also are known for defecating about 40 times per day. For those who have a slow digestive system, this fact alone might qualify them as a sort of super hero. Beyond this, they tend to be docile creatures, mostly because they lack the energy to do otherwise. While the current panda population still leaves it in the “endangered” category, efforts to restore the population are resulting in more success than not.
Of course, pandas are hardly the only animals that have some super senses to offer them a leg up in the animal kingdom. You might remember from your school experience that ants are able to carry weights from 10-50 times their own body weight, making them some of the strongest creatures (by size). Additionally, the average cat has better vision, hearing and smelling than most animals around. Often times, specialized dog breeds are the only animals that can outclass these cat senses. And don’t forget, animals like an octopus can actually defend themselves by shooting out a stream of ink, giving them a real leg up.