Biology Question #129

Erin Harris, a 13 year old female from the Internet asks on February 11, 2000,

How would Giant Pandas being killed off affect my life?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on February 11, 2000

Nobody knows for sure. But there's this old idea that a butterfly flapping her wings in Australia can start some air molecules moving that by a long chain of events start a hurricane in Florida, USA. Giant pandas are part of an ecological web that goes far beyond where they live.

Maybe you know that pandas eat bamboo. Imagine this: Maybe if they all died, there'd be too much of a certain kind of bamboo. This might lead to a great increase in a certain kind of insect which lives on that bamboo. Now just suppose that this insect carried a disease which made people sick, and that 100,000,000 people died, including YOU. How's that for an effect?! Also, giant pandas contain genetic information that is only found in giant pandas. If they die, then their genetic code dies with them and we lose that information forever.

Finally, many poems, books, nature films, paintings and drawings have been made about these animals. What would it be like to live in a world with only art inspired by the giant panda remaining, and the animal itself gone forever?

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