XI'AN, March 30, Xinhua -- A brown giant panda has been spotted on camera in a nature reserve in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the provincial forestry administration said on Thursday.

The panda was captured on camera in the Changqing National Nature Reserve in Yangxian County, Shaanxi on March 11.

It was moving up a slope toward a bamboo forest. Its brown and white patterns were very distinct, the administration said.

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A brown giant panda was spotted in the Changqing National Nature Reserve, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, March 11, 2018. (Xinhua/Changqing National Nature Reserve)

The world's first brown panda was discovered in 1985 in the Qinling Mountains.

The Qinling giant panda is a subspecies of giant panda first recognized in 2005. It has a smaller and rounder skull, shorter snout and less fur than the more familiar Sichuan subspecies.

This is the second time a brown panda has been spotted in the reserve, after a team of researchers led by Peking University professor Pan Wenshi discovered a brown panda in 1992.

It is also the ninth time a brown panda has been spotted in the Qinling Mountains area, said Yong Yange, a panda expert.

"Brown pandas could be the result of genetic mutations or atavism. There is no conclusion yet. We hope studying the brown pandas will lead us to unravel the mystery surrounding their evolution," said Yong.

According to nationwide research on giant pandas from 2011 to 2013, there were 345 wild pandas in the Qinling area, and the population has been increasing slowly.

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