Giant panda remains found in 2,000-year-old Chinese royal tomb

This is the first complete skeleton of a giant panda unearthed from the tomb of the Han dynasty emperor, dating back over 2,000 years.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Representational image
Representational image


The skeleton remains of a giant panda have been uncovered in a Chinese imperial tomb. 

According to the archaeologists, this is the first complete skeleton of a giant panda unearthed from the tomb of the Han dynasty emperor dating back over 2,000 years. 

As per SCMP, the panda was likely sacrificed and buried with Emperor Wen, who ruled from 180 to 157 BCE. When the Emperor died in 157 BCE, the panda was buried with him to accompany him into the afterlife.

The emperor's tomb is located in modern-day Xian in Shaanxi Province, which was once China's capital.

The tomb was examined by a team of archaeologists from the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology. 

Several other animals recovered from royal tombs

Prior to this discovery, partial remains, or a panda's skull, were discovered inside other Han dynasty tombs. 

Archaeologists stated that a giant panda skull without a body was discovered in 1975 in the tomb of Emperor Wen's mother, Consort Bo.

Archeologists have discovered several enormous wild animals in royal graves in different parts of Shaanxi, and they are thought to have acted as a status symbol for the Han rulers. 

Tigers and yaks were also buried alongside the emperor, while the remains of a red-crowned crane, a peacock, a monkey, and a tortoise were found in his mother's tomb.

Reportedly, the rare, wild creatures were only found in the tombs of the emperor, empress, and the emperor's mother. Some of these animals were likely offerings from the southern parts of China. 

Some of the tombs also included skeletons remains of Asian tapirs, which became extinct in China around 1,000 years ago. Interestingly, archaeologists also earlier found a new - and now extinct - species of gibbon in the tomb of Lady Xia, China's first emperor Qin Shihuang's grandmother.

The latest findings offer insights into the climatic conditions of this long-lost time.

The researchers hypothesized that pandas lived in Shaanxi during the Han period, implying that the province's climate was wetter and warmer as compared to today. This sort of climate would have supported bamboo plantations, which pandas mostly consume.

Archaeologists will conduct DNA analysis on the animals to decipher the food they were largely dependent on during those times and also where they originated from.

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