It turns out, the black and white color of pandas have a more functional reason other than making them extra adorable to our eyes. According to science, their unique coloring actually makes them look more menacing toward other species.
In general, the color of mammals is typically in the shade that matches their environment (brown, gray) which helps them to camouflage from predators.
Since pandas are among the notable exceptions, they have become the subject of a study by the same team of researchers who earlier identified that zebras have black and white stripes to evade blood-sucking flies.
Scientists from UC Davis and California State University, Long Beach have recently set out to investigate why the adorable bears had the distinctive black and white fur using a technique called the phylogenetic comparative method. The team looked into the similar distribution of coloring across different species to identify which evolutionary function such features are beneficial to pandas.
Their findings revealed that while the panda’s white parts (face, neck, belly, and back) allow it to blend in the winter backdrop, the black marks around the eyes, ears, and body are designed to stand out.
According to the research, the dark markings in the eyes are to help them be identified within their species, while the black ears are supposed to make them look tough and be able to scare away predators.
“Dark ears may be involved with signaling intent about ferocity whereas dark eye marks may serve in individual recognition, “ the report published last week in Behavioral Ecology noted.
The researchers already discounted other theories connecting the panda’s coloring:
”There is no compelling support for their fur color being involved in temperature regulation, disrupting the animal’s outline, or in reducing eye glare.”
The report, however, did not provide any scientific explanation for why the furry creatures are ridiculously cute.