Scientists discover reasoning behind the black-and-white coloring of panda bears

By Sean Dowling, Buzz60

Why do pandas have their famous patches? The answer isn't as black and white as you might think.

Their markings are there to help them look tough, blend in and stand out, according to a team of researchers from University of California-Davis and California State University-Long Beach wrote in the journal "Behavioral Ecology."

After looking at the coats of nearly 40 types of bears, they isolated fur colors over different parts of the body.

They compared the black and white pandas to other animals in a bunch of different environmental conditions: snowy areas, shady areas and those in both warm and cold weather.

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Twin Panda's make their debut in China
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Twin Panda's make their debut in China
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: Staff take the 6-month-old giant panda twins to see the tourists at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: A staff holds a lens in front of the 6-month-old giant panda twins at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by Li Wenbin/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: Staff take the 6-month-old giant panda twins to see the tourists at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: Staff take the 6-month-old giant panda twins to see the tourists at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - JANUARY 22: 6-month-old giant panda twins play at the panda house of Chongqing Zoo on January 22, 2017 in Chongqing, China. The giant panda boy and girl twins were born in July last year, and made their debut on Sunday in Chongqing Zoo. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
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The team thinks white markings help pandas hide in the snow, while their black limbs help them hide in shady forests.

They need both because pandas don't hibernate, meaning they are on the hunt for bamboo during all seasons.

As for the black ears, they're to show how big and bad pandas are to other predators.

Their dark eye patches could also help with aggression or act as a name-tag for other pandas so that they recognize each other.

Researchers are quick to point out that the study was comparative so it's possible that a patch of fur evolved for a different purpose.

This is the same team that uncovered that zebras have black and white stripes in order to repel biting fleas.

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