The Sideshow

Pandas were eaten by prehistoric Chinese people, scientist says

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Was the adorable giant panda once a staple of the Chinese diet? (ABC News)

Recently discovered fossil records suggest that ancient humans living in China may have regularly eaten giant pandas as part of their diet.

The Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology lead scientist Wei Guangbiao says the fossils, discovered in the modern-day city of Chongqing, contain tool markings. "We have studied many samples of panda fossils excavated in Chongqing from the sites where humans once lived," Wei told the Associated Press. A large number of them showed that pandas were slashed to death by man."

However, prehistoric giant pandas were both smaller and much more abundant than their endangered, modern-day counterparts.

"In primitive times, people wouldn't kill animals that were useless to them," Wei said in another interview with the Chongqing Morning Post. He says the pandas lived in the Chongqing Mountains between 10,000 and 1 million years ago.

An article in Slate explains that panda meat is said to taste terrible, in part due to the panda's diet largely consisting of bamboo. There is reportedly no detailed history of humans eating pandas, and anyone in China found guilty of killing an endangered panda can face up to seven years in prison.

One observer said the prehistoric giant pandas were likely far more palatable than today's pandas, which are said to have "stringy" meat.

Sad Panda, indeed.

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