Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Panda Picnic

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Going vegan?  What can a bear claw teach us? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Bears love meat!  And occasionally honey -- I’m talking to you, Winnie the Pooh!  But not ALL bears.  For instance, despite their ursine heritage, pandas eat bamboo everyday. However, a panda’s gut is MADE for consuming meat. How do they survive on a vegan diet?

Yonggang Nie from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his team checked out the nutritional facts on bamboo - inside and out. 

What did they find? On the outside, bamboo is a green plant. But inside? PACKED with protein! Bamboo’s nutrients could feed a pack of wolves, let alone one hungry panda!

Bamboo’s high protein content helps explain panda evolution too! Pandas descended from meat-eating ancestors that relied on animal protein for nutrition. They switched diets only two million years ago! That’s pretty recent for a total diet redo. 

Protein-rich bamboo likely made that transition easier. It’s like vegans eating tofu or veggie sausage for protein. 

Bamboo burgers, though? No thanks -- I'll stick with my double-double from In-N-Out!