Originally published in Creation 8, no 3 (June 1986): 15.
The raccoon-like Red Panda is supposed to show us good proof of evolution.
We are told it is a meat-eater that no longer eats meat; it has razor-sharp claws and a vicious bite that it rarely attacks with; and it has supposedly evolved a small ‘sixth finger’ on its front paws from the wristbone.
How can we creationists answer this evidence for evolution? Simple. The panda is classed as a meat-eater (carnivore) mainly by its jaws, teeth and feet. And while pandas will eat some meat, they prefer bamboo, fruit and plants. Yet we find there is no evidence their ancestors were anything but vegetarian pandas. (In fact, zoologists still can’t agree after more than a century on what pandas evolved from.) The Red Panda’s sharp claws and vicious bite are not left over from a time when their ancestors attacked and defended themselves from other animals. They have no enemies other than man. Their claws simply help them climb trees easily. And their strong jaws and teeth are needed to snap and crunch their huge daily meals of bamboo. The ‘sixth finger’, or pseudo-thumb, is simply an enlarged radial sesamoid-a wristbone that helps the panda grasp the bamboo stems it eats. This ‘thumb’ is larger in the Giant Panda because it eats larger bamboo stems.