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Data from: A three-dimensional computer simulation of feeding behaviour in red and giant pandas relates skull biomechanics with dietary niche partitioning

Citation

Figueirido, Borja et al. (2014), Data from: A three-dimensional computer simulation of feeding behaviour in red and giant pandas relates skull biomechanics with dietary niche partitioning, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8n8v3

Abstract

The red (Ailurus fulgens) and giant (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) pandas are mammalian carnivores convergently adapted to a bamboo feeding diet. However, whereas Ailurus forage almost entirely on younger leaves, fruits and tender trunks, Ailuropoda rely more on trunks and stems. Such a difference in foraging mode is considered as strategy for resource partitioning where they are sympatric. Here we use FEA to test for mechanical differences and similarities in skull performance between Ailurus and Ailuropoda related to diet. Feeding simulations suggest that the two panda species have similar ranges of mechanical advantage and strain energy profiles across the dentition, which reflects their durophagous diet. However, the stress distributions and peaks in the skulls of Ailurus and Ailuropoda are remarkably different for biting at all tooth locations. Although the skull of Ailuropoda is capable of resisting higher stresses than the skull of Ailurus, the latter is able to distribute stresses more evenly through the skull. These differences in skull biomechanics reflect their distinct bamboo feeding preference as Ailurus use repetitive chewing in an extended mastication to feed on soft leaves and Ailuropoda exhibit more punctual periods of chomp-and-swallow feeding to break the hard bamboo trunks.

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