Monday, August 13, 2007

Fighting panda extinction

Here's why it may be so hard to tell when pandas are pregnant: sometimes it's hard to tell what sex they are.

BEIJING (AFP) - A giant panda first thought to be male, then classified as a hermaphrodite who was unable to bear cubs, has now surprised Chinese scientists by having twins, state media reported on Thursday.


Jinzhu had been classified as male at birth in 1996, a mistake owing to the typically small penis size of pandas, which can sometimes confuse scientists as to a panda's sex, Xinhua said.

The mix-up led to an ill-fated attempt in 2000 to mate Jinzhu with a female panda in Japan.

The two animals showed "complete disinterest" in each other, the report said.

Well, at least it makes sense, now. Scientists confused by the "small penis size of pandas". It's a wonder they can get the animals to reproduce at all.

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