China's giant pandas may be doomed to extinction because of a sperm defect, the China Daily said Saturday.
Examination under powerful microscopes revealed that the panda's sperm is too small for consistent fertilization, the newspaper said in a report on the results of a two-year research study into why the rare animals have trouble breeding.
"This structural difference makes impregnation very difficult, with little chance of successful fertilization," one researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences was quoted as saying.
He said that although scientists could try to find new ways to increase the pandas' reproductive capacity, results of the study indicate that there is little chance of preventing the species from becoming extinct. "The only effort we can make is to put off its doom as long as possible," he said.