Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Paul Constantino

Second Advisor

Robin O’Keefe

Third Advisor

Suzanne Strait


Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) have cranial morphology similar to the extinct hominin genus Paranthropus which makes them an excellent model species when studying Paranthropus diet. Both species have wide skulls with flared zygomatic arches adapted for chewing. To gain insight into possible food sources of Paranthropus, I investigated the giant panda’s specialized diet of bamboo. The toughness, hardness, and stiffness of various bamboo species was determined to assess mechanical challenges facing giant pandas during feeding. Bamboo is thought to be tough, but studies on such properties and how they apply to mastication of giant pandas are largely absent from the scientific literature. Knowing the properties of bamboo will help draw a parallel between giant panda and Paranthropus diets. Mechanical properties data were gathered from young and adult bamboo shoots using a universal testing machine, which applies and measures force to the bamboo samples. A collection of four species, which include bamboo favored and ignored by giant pandas, were tested to determine how bamboo properties vary interspecifically with the goal of discovering if there are mechanical differences between bamboo favored and disliked by the species. Conducting this research will aid efforts to understand the diet of Paranthropus and could help establish a link between Paranthropus and a food source with properties comparable to those of bamboo.


Giant panda -- Feeding and feeds