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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2005

Panada – Not Your Ordinary Bear!

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

Most of us have had a splinter in our finger at one time or another. But imagine the splinters you would receive if all you ever ate was wood! Talk about a sore throat. Yet, there is a cute and cuddly looking creature that almost exclusively eats bamboo. However, God has given the giant panda a throat with a tough lining to protect it from splinters.

Giant panda bears are large mammals that live in six small mountain range areas of China. The scientific name, Ailuropoda melan,means “black and white cat-footed animal.” In China, they’re called “Xiongmao,” which means “giant bear cat.” Their cuddly black-and-white appearance is their trademark, even though adult pandas can grow to be 5-6 feet tall and can weigh close to 300 pounds. Giant pandas live almost solely on a diet of bamboo. Since bamboo doesn’t contain many nutrients, pandas are required to eat 20 to 40 pounds of it per day, spending up to 16 hours per day eating. However, God has designed the digestive tract of these cute bears to be able to live on the tough, fibrous bamboo plants.

Pandas also have a unique finger arrangement. They have five fingers, none of which is opposable (capable of being placed against the end of another, as in a pinching movement)like the human thumb. In addition, they also possess an enlargement of two wrist bones—which basically gives the panda seven fingers. One
of these enlarged wrist bones even looks like the human thumb. Evolutionists once be-lieved that this “thumb” was useless and clumsy, and therefore could not be the product of any intelligent Designer. They thought this was good evidence for evolution. We know today, however, that these two “digits” allow the panda to grasp bamboo in a pincer-like movement. It allows them to hold, pull, and strip bamboo stems. Pandas do not write, paint, play video games, or play ball as humans do, so they do not need an opposable thumb like we have. However, they do need something that allows them to grasp and handle bamboo.

There are believed to be less than 1,000 pandas left on the planet—with 110 living in captivity. Zoos in the United States provide homes to less than ten of these marvelous creatures. Truly, the beautiful panda bear is an amazing sight to be seen—one that was specially designed by God.

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