TIL the giant 's ancestors switched to bamboo-only diets more than two million years ago:


By comparison, chimpanzees’ and bonobos’ most recent common ancestor () lived 1.6mya:


And humans’, chimps’, and bonobos’ MRCA lived 6mya.

Pandas been eating only bamboo for a long time!

(The point of the article though is that bamboo is like meat—high protein, low fat—and panda internal still resembles carnivores’. ftw.)


'While "original divergence" between [human and chimp] populations may have occurred as early as 13 million years ago, hybridization may have been ongoing until as recently as 4 million years ago.' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanz

That is an astonishingly wide range of hybridization! Oh, I'm so jealous of my great-grandkids who will hopefully know so much more details about that evolutionary history!

One of my favorite books is Richard ' *Ancestor's Tale* (& isn't about atheism).

"The of all humans almost certainly lived in East Asia, which would have given them key access to extremely isolated populations in Australia and the Americas." (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_rec)

An East Asian dude or dudette, living three to six thousand years ago, is likely the most recent common ancestor to all living humans.

Always blows my mind. 🤯

“no matter the languages we speak or the colour of our skin, we [all] share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who first domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forests of North and South America, and who laboured to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu.”

The money quote from Rhode, Olsen, and Chang (nature.com/articles/nature0284)!

“a dietary switch to bamboo ~3 million years ago when pygmy pandas emerged. Fossil evidence indicates that the earliest (primal) pandas were omnivores or carnivores, living in swamp habitats lacking bamboo, whereas pygmy pandas mainly ate bamboo, as indicated by their specialized cranial and dental adaptations. This hypothesis is supported at the molecular level by the concurrent pseudogenization of the umami taste gene Tas1r1 associated with the pandas’ decreased reliance on meat.” —Zhao et al.


That snippet was from the Zhao et al. paper (Nature Genetics 45) that Ed Yong linked to, quoted as I try to understand what exactly it means when Yong says, "The panda’s ancestors switched to a vegetarian diet more than 2 million years ago".


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