Chapter

A Paleontologist’s Perspective on the Origin and Relationships of the Giant Panda

Hunt Robert M.

in Giant Pandas

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238671
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930162 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238671.003.0005
A Paleontologist’s Perspective on the Origin and Relationships of the Giant Panda

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This chapter describes a revised concept of the bear family, Ursidae, which has emerged from the discovery of fossils over the past half-century, and places the giant panda within that context. The origin of the giant panda is evaluated. The Lufeng teeth not only link the fossil species with the living giant panda, but clearly show its derivation from the ursine bears, and most probably from a species of Miocene Ursavus at some time prior to 7 Ma. The origin of the giant panda lies within the subfamily Ursinae, one of the three great evolutionary radiations of the family Ursidae. Ursine bears arise from species of small amphicynodont ursids, who also gave rise to the larger digitigrade hemicyonines, an important group of Miocene predators on the northern continents.

Keywords: Lufeng; teeth; Ursidae; Ursavus; fossils; paleontologist

Chapter.  3210 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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