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Originally published in Creation 17, no 2 (March 1995): 39.
The red panda is supposed to show evidence for evolution. We are told it is a meat-eater that no longer eats meat, and it has supposedly evolved a small 'sixth finger' from a wristbone.
How do creationists answer this? 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 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.
These traits don't show evolution. They show us that pandas are a unique creation of God — perfectly designed for the life God intended for them.