Red panda

The red panda is a small arboreal mammal native to the Himalayas, southwestern China and related to raccoons. Ailurus fulgens have reddish-brown fur, long shaggy tails and waddling gaits due to their shorter front legs; they feed mainly on bamboo but are omnivorous as well eating eggs, birds insects or even small mammals if necessary. The red panda has a special place in the hearts of many people around the world, with their appealing looks and cuddly demeanor. The first sightings of what was thought to be just another type of raccoon were documented by western explorers during the late 1800s when several skins were brought back from China to Europe. The earliest description was given by Frédéric Cuvier in 1825, but it was not until 1847 that the species was given a scientific name; Ailurus fulgens. The red panda gets its name from one of the few things it is known for, eating only bamboo leaves. The Latin name “fulgens” means shining or bright – describing the beautiful red-brown color of its fur. The word is a cognate to “fulgidus” and “fulgur”, which mean shining or bright in Latin, and fulmen, meaning lightning. The name Ailuropoda is derived from the two ancient greek words for cat-“ailouros” and foot-“pous.” The name red panda was coined in 1847, when a British officer named Brian Houghton Hodgson, presented to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta a skin he had obtained near Darjeeling. The animal was first thought to be a bear and named Ursus fulgens because of its reddish fur; the species name was later changed to Ailurus fulgens since it is more appropriate for a cat-like mammal. The red panda’s genus, “Ailurus”, is derived from the Latin word “ailouros” meaning cat (from the same root as our English word ailurophobia), and from the Greek “oura”, meaning tail. The species name, fulgens, is also derived from Latin and means bright or shining. The red panda’s closest living relatives are the raccoons (Procyonidae), the weasel family (Mustelidae), and skunks (Mephitidae); it has been classified in its own taxonomic family, the Ailuridae, which includes the red panda and the only other member of that group, the “lesser panda” (Ailurus fulgens); The red panda is one of two species previously classified in a single genus. The plan was to divide this into two genera, with one retaining the species name “panda” and the other taking the new classification. The red panda was chosen to be preserved in its original genus due to its distinctive features, but that is not a final decision for this animal’s taxonomic status. The study concluded that once it became possible to collect more data, it would be appropriate to reconsider whether the two species should be separated into different genera. The red panda is one of two species previously classified in a single genus. The plan was to divide this into two genera, with one retaining the species name “panda” and the other taking the new classification; The red panda has large, spoon-shaped (“spatulate”) bamboo teeth that it uses to eat the shoots and leaves of this plant.

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