A recent study has shown there are really two species of giant panda

Pandas, like many other mountain species, are liable to get marooned on islands in the sky, and recent genetic analysis has shown that there are really two species of giant panda which have not interbred for more than 300,000 years.

The black and white face of the common panda bear is incredibly well known

One of these populations is in Sichuan province, the other is in Shaanxi province. The latter population have a different look with their heads looking more like cats than bears. The Shanxi province pandas were only confirmed to exist in the 1960s and we’re recognised as a separate subspecies in 2005.

quinling panda

Both populations only exist in China, though this other population only has about 350 members. Perhaps the problem with this is that there are now two species that are more severely endangered. We just hope that China prioritises these two species – the vast national park that China has recently declared is likely to increase the number of the more numerous pandas, but clearly more work needs to be done on the cat-faced panda bear.

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