Friday, 22 June 2018

The Oldest DNA from Giant Pandas Was Just Discovered in a Cave in China

By Rafi Letzter, Staff Writer | June 18, 2018 05:28pm ET

Scientists in China found a fossil from a giant panda that lived 22,000 years ago. Until they excavated the fossil, reassembled it and analyzed its mitochondrial DNA, biologists had no idea this panda lineage even existed.

It's now considered the oldest DNA from giant pandas to date, the researchers said.

The panda fossil turned up in Cizhutuo Cave in the Guangxi region of China. No pandas live there today, the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences wrote in a paper published today (June 18) in the journal Current Biology. An unexpected giant-panda fossil find was exciting, they wrote, because researchers don't have a good sense of the history of the 2,500 giant pandas alive in the world today. Researchers know that 20 million years ago, the current batch of living giant pandas split from all other bears. They don't know much about their lineage since.

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