Panda discovers ice

I always love seeing animals encounter stuff in the environment that they’ve never experienced before. The classic genre of this is “a cat’s first time in the snow.” But this is even better: it’s the Toronto Zoo’s teenage panda, Jia Panpan, born in October of last year, encountering ice for the first time. (It’s said to be part of his “enrichment program”.)  Mr. Panpan makes himself a snowcone about 1 minute in:

h/t: Michael


  1. Posted July 23, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Cute! (I do the same thing at the gym; I request a cupful of ice and suck on it while running on ellipticals. Next time I go, I’ll think of Panpan.)

  2. rickflick
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    You can just see the mental wheels spinning.

  3. Rick
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    The panda seems to be left-handed. Are animals like humans in having a dominant side? Is being right-pawed more common than being left-pawed? Why are there dominant sides?

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Good questions. I was pretty sure that it was established that chimps were mostly right-handed, but googling shows that is an old result compared to either-handed as of right now.

      Here is a article that may review state-of-the-art (dated 2014):

      “Lateralisation of limb use – that is, a bias towards one side or the other – usually begins in the brain. We know that some tasks are largely controlled by brain activity in the left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere governs other tasks.”

      “So it is possible (though hard to prove) that as our hominin ancestors began walking on two legs rather than four, freeing up their hands to perform new tasks like making tools, they were predisposed to begin using those hands differently.”

      “In support of the idea, Braccini and her colleagues’ looked at handedness in chimpanzees, and found that when the apes stand on all fours, they displayed no real hand preferences. It was only when forced to assume an upright stance that a lateral preference emerged – although individual chimps in the study were equally likely to be left-handed as right-handed.”

      “We know roughly when that change occurred from experiments in which researchers made their own versions of ancient stone tools using either their left or right hands to chip – or knap – the tool into shape, before comparing them with the tools made by early hominins. Doing so suggests there is only limited evidence that hominin toolmakers working more than 2 million years ago were primarily right-handed.

      However, stone tools that were made some 1.5 million years ago in Koobi Fora, Kenya, by two ancient human species – Homo habilis and Homo erectus – do show some evidence of species-wide right-handedness. And by the time a species called Homo heidelbergensis had appeared, perhaps around 600,000 years ago, there was a clear right-handed preference in prehistoric societies.”

      [ ]

      It may be that bears, who are able to free up their forelegs for manipulation, would show a similar either-handed preference as chimps.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted July 23, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        By the way, the article float they idea that since language processing is lateralized, it would tie in with a language/toolmaking progression.

        However, a sufficient – and more poetic – hypothesis seems to me be that it was enforced by random standardization due to systematic and improved teacher/adept learning.

        Maybe Jerry would like that idea (I do), implying that scientists – written large – has acted as teachers for millions of years in hominins and made an imprint on our genome. We could perhaps call it the Teacher Legacy.

        • Rick
          Posted July 23, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the interesting reply and the link.

  4. Posted July 23, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Posted July 24, 2016 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    “Jian Panpan.” Love the panda’s name.

    Carl Kruse

  6. mudskipper
    Posted July 24, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Nice demonstration of the Panda’s thumb.

  7. jeffery
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    “OOOhhhh- brain freeze…”

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