Bored or High? #3: Panda death

One of my favourite diagrams of all time comes from a paper in Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology The title of the paper does little to warn of the horrors within:

Remains of Holocene giant pandas from Jiangdong Mountain (Yunnan, China) and their relevance to the evolution of quaternary environments in south-western China

Peek into the abstract however and you may begin to see where this is going:

Two subfossil partial skeletons of male giant pandas were recovered, along with remains of 16 other mammalian species, from a natural sinkhole on Jiangdong Mountain… The bones represent a natural accumulation of mostly large mammals (>30 kg), which had fallen accidentally into the sinkhole.

The authors illustrate this accidental falling through the medium of cartoon, providing 7 beautifully illustrated panels. I reproduce the panels separately below; the full diagram is a lot to take in all at once.

The diagram starts out by setting the scene for you. Note the depth gauge.


Panel 1 depicts this lovely Panda having the time of its life in some yummy, dense bamboo. But oh no! Look out Mr. Panda!


Panels 2 and 3 show our poor Panda falling to its untimely death. I can’t help but wonder, what was it thinking as it fell?


In panel 4, nature takes its gruesome course…


…and in panels 5 & 6 our cute, cuddly, and very much dead panda reaches its final resting place.


Let’s just let that sink in for a moment…



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