Giant panda bleat calls, often emitted during the panda's mating season, have just been deciphered, according to new research.
The study reveals that males broadcast information about their size, while females advertise how old they are.
The study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behavior, is the first to examine the informational content of any giant panda vocalization.
Lead author Benjamin Charlton explained to Discovery News that bleats are just one type of call made by the distinctive black and white members of the bear family.
"Giant pandas (also) produce barks, moans, honks, growls, roars and squeals," said Charlton, a postdoctoral research biologist at Zoo Atlanta. "In addition, females produce chirps when they are approaching and entering estrus, and some non-vocal sounds, such as the snort and chomp, which are sometimes heard."
For the new research, however, Charlton and colleagues Zhang Zhihe and Rebecca Snyder focused only on bleats, which the giant pandas emit year round, but do so more frequently and prominently during the breeding season.