||Han Han, Wei Wei,Yibo Hu,Yonggang Nie,Xueping Ji, Li Yan, Zejun Zhang, Xiaoxue Shi, Lifeng Zhu, Yunbing Luo, Weicai Chen, Fuwen Wei
||The ancestral panda Ailurarctos lufengensis, excavated from the late Miocene, is thought to be carnivorous or omnivorous . Today, giant pandas exclusively consume bamboo and have distinctive tooth, skull, and muscle characteristics adapted to a tough and fibrous bamboo diet during their long evolution [1, 2]. A special feature, the pseudo-thumb, has evolved to permit the precise and efficient grasping of bamboo [3, 4]. Unlike those of extant pandas, little is known about the diet and habitat preferences of extinct pandas. Prevailing studies suggest that the panda shifted to specialized bamboo feeding in the Pleistocene [5, 6]; however, this remains questionable. Pandas now survive in a fraction of their historical habitat, but no specific information has been reported. Stable isotope analyses can be used to understand diet- and habitat-related changes in animals . Isotopic signals in bone collagen reflect dietary compositions of ancient human diets [9, 10] and dietary changes between historical and modern animal populations [11, 12]. Here, we conduct stable isotope analyses of bone and tooth samples from ancient and modern pandas and from sympatric fauna. We show that pandas have had a diet dominated by C3 resources over time and space and that trophic niches of ancient and modern pandas are distinctly different. The isotopic trophic and ecological niche widths of ancient pandas are approximately three times larger than those of modern pandas, suggesting that ancient pandas possibly had more complex diets and habitats than do their modern counterparts. Our findings provide insight into the dietary evolution and habitat contraction of pandas.