Beijing, Oct 14 (IANS) Giant pandas, regarded as China's "national treasures", once served as delicious food for the ancient man living in the country's southwest, according to a Chinese scientist who studies human fossils.
Wei Guangbiao, head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology at the Chongqing China Three Gorges Museum, is a co-author of the award-winning book "Origins of Giant Pandas", Xinhua reported.
According to paleoanthropologist Wei, pandas were eaten by prehistoric man who inhabited in the area of today's Chongqing municipality, where the cuddly creatures once teemed.
"We have studied many samples of the panda fossils excavated in Chongqing from the sites where humans once lived," says Wei. "A large number of them showed that pandas were once slashed to death by man."
"In the primitive time, man would not kill animals that were useless to them," he adds.
Wei also tells that the pandas the ancient man devoured were by no means "giant".
"They were much smaller than today's giant pandas, just the size of the Tibetan mastiffs," he says, adding that the miniature creatures were the direct ancestors of the giant pandas we see today.
The scientist tells, dating back 10,000 years to one million years, high mountains in Chongqing were home to wild pandas, which later left for other areas, including the neighbouring Sichuan province, now dubbed "hometown of pandas."
Wei attributes the pandas massive migration to the extinction of their staple diet, bamboos, because of climate change.