A study of excavated Panda fossils revealed that ancient Chinese men ate pandas, which are now regarded as "national treasures" of China.

Wei Guangbiao, the head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology at a Chongqing museum and co-author of the award-winning book "Origins of Giant Pandas," studied the fossils and revealed his findings in an interview to a newspaper.

"We have studied many samples of the panda fossils excavated in Chongqing from the sites where humans once lived," he was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency. According to him, ancient men did not kill animals which they found useless. Instead, they widely ate pandas which were of relatively smaller size.

"In the primitive time, man would not kill animals that were useless to them," he said. But Wei said the pandas ancient man devoured were by no means "giant".

"A large number of them showed that pandas were once slashed to death by man," he added.

Pandas are largely found in central-western and south western China. They are scientifically classified as carnivores, but their diet largely consists of bamboo. Due to extensive deforestation, pandas were forced to live out of their habitats.

According to Wei, Pandas lived in Chongqing's high mountains around 10,000 years to one million years ago.