Where do pandas come from?

Giant Panda -

Where do pandas come from?

Pandas now live in the Sichuan province of China 🇨🇳, but this was not always the case. The geographical distribution of the Panda has varied over centuries. And the study of the bones of the panda's ancestors shows that the panda lived in Spain! The origin of the Panda is neither Chinese nor Japanese, but European! Curious? Let's learn more 🧐



pop panda t shirt



Source: POP Panda T-Shirt (We Love Panda©)

Where Do Panda Bear Live?

  • Prehistoric panda population

One of the oldest ancestors of the panda is the Ailuropoda. Its fossils have been found in China in 7 Chinese provinces. Then Ailuropoda evolved to a larger giant panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca baconi. This is the most recent ancestor  of the giant panda. Fossils of this giant panda have been found in 18 Chinese provinces, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.

For the last 5,000 years, the panda has lived in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi, Hunan, Hubei, Shanxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Henan, Guangdong and in the present day municipality of Chongqing.


  • Panda population today

Before the 1950s, the six mountains currently occupied by the giant panda were interconnected. Modern humans development has since fragmented its habitat. Human demographics, deforestation, road and track construction have destroyed and fragmented the panda habitat. This is one of the reasons why pandas are endangered

Nowadays these black and white bears live in the wild in Central China. They are concentrated in three provinces: Gansu, Shaanxi, and Sichuan (Chengdu).


Are Pandas Native to Japan?

There are 10 pandas in Japan today. These pandas live in captivity in three different zoos. There are no pandas in the wild in Japan. The panda does not come from Japan. But does it come from China? As we have seen above, pandas can be found in 3 Chinese provinces and live in the highlands on 6 mountains:

  • The Qinling Mountains.
  • The Min Shan Mountains.
  • The Qinghai Mountains.
  • The Daxiangling Mountains.
  • Xiaoxiangling mountains.
  • Liangshan Mountains.

    Pandas are native to Spain 🇪🇸

      According to the latest census of 2014 there are 1,864 giant pandas in the world. All present in central China and yet their most distant ancestor does not come from China but from Spain!

      According to specialists, the lineage of these animals diverged from that of other bears between 18 and 22 million years ago. But the story remains unclear on how their lineage diverged from that of the other bears. So far, the oldest known ancestor (Ailurarctos) dates back 8.2 million years and was discovered in China. The 2012 study is an important discovery.


      Scientists have studied two 11.6 million-year-old urchid jaws. They observed that the fossils had the characteristics of a bear adapted to eating tough plants such as bamboo, the only food of today's giant panda. This, along with other observations, led them to conclude that they were indeed in the presence of an ancestor of the giant panda. A new species that they attributed to a new zoological genus, Kretzoiarctos.


        Pandas are native to Europe

          Besides, the paleoanthropologist David Begun 👨‍🌾 discovered fossilized teeth in Hungary, like those of the Giant Panda. This discovery is one more proof that the animal with the black and white coat could well come from Europe and not from Asia. The research team decided to name the species Miomaci panonnicum. But this fossil is not considered to be a direct descendant of the giant panda but its cousin.



          Source: Panda Backpack Ears (We Love panda©)

          Conclusion: Climate change to drive pandas to migrate from the European continent to the Asian continent! 🤓

          It is possible that pandas migrated from Europe to Asia. Europe was wetter and warmer ten million years ago and had many subtropical forests. A change in climate five million years ago, which would have made Europe colder and drier, could have caused this cousin of the panda to migrate to Asia. Or hasten its extinction.

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