Why do zebras have stripes?

Researchers from Hungary and Sweden say they have cracked the age old mystery, that has plagued both humans and zebras for years…

zebra stripes

Turns out it has nothing to do with them being the mimes of the animal kingdom. Rather, it’s to keep away flies.

Apparently, it’s due to the way that the striped patterns reflect light. Horse flies are more attracted to darker coats because of the way that they polarise light. But when researchers tested how many flies were attracted to the black and white stripes of a zebra, they found it to be even less than just black or just white.

This is only one theory though, and the science community has leaped to the defence of other theories that include:

  • The mass of stripes in a large herd confuses predators
  • The stripes may help the animals regulate their temperature, and that zebras recognise other individuals by their stripes
  • Studies of zebra embryos show that, early in development, they are black and they develop their white stripes later

Personally, I just think it’s a style thing.

Zebra Stripes

Next season, they’ll all be wearing red.

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