Why Wild Giant Pandas Frequently Roll in Horse Manure

The question of the wild giant pandas frequently roll in horse manure is explored in a new study called “Why Wild Giant Pandas Frequently Roll in Horse Manure.”

Why Wild Giant Pandas Frequently Roll in Horse Manure,” Wenliang Zhou, Shilong Yang, Bowen Li, Yonggang Nie, Anna Luo, Guangping Huang, Xuefeng Liu, Ren Lai, and Fuwen Wei, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 7, 2020. The study includes videos of the activity.

The authors, at the Chinese Academy of Science, report:

“In nature, it is extremely rare to observe attraction to fecal matter between wild mammalian species. Horse manure rolling (HMR) behavior described in this study is frequently observed in QIN pandas at low habitat temperature. Based on integrated analysis from climatic data, animal behaviors, and molecular assays, HMR is found as a temperature-, chemical-, and TRPM8-related behavior that may contribute to pandas’ cold tolerance. This study sheds light on how wild animals actively seek and utilize potential chemical resources from their habitat for survival adaptation.”

Word is spreading. Katherine Wu interviewed some scientists about this, for the New York Times, and other reports are proliferating.

Improbable Research