Why does zebras have stripes?
Zebra Stripes and Interesting discoveries about it
If you shave all of zebra’s hair, the skin is totally black. But for the hair, it’s black and white. This is because their coat of dark hair is broken by stripes of white, unpigmented hair. Therefore, one can say zebras are black with white stripe. They may be partially correct but one cannot say it is white with black stripe, that will be totally wrong.
Did you know that these stripes have advantages. Flies that bite and suck blood e.g horseflies and tsetse flies seem to get confused about the white and black stripes of zebras, and so, they bite them less.
It is worthy of note that the optic organ of the flies is likely responsible for the optical illusion they probably experience with striped animals.
Some have theorized the “Wagon Wheel Effect” as what they experience.
On the flip side, flies are heavily attracted to dark blue and white colours while mosquitoes on the other hand prefer red, black, orange and avoid white, green and purple colours.
So this behaviours are utilized in studies to make traps or even choosing fashion in endemic areas.
This has been proven by research carries out by Dr. Tim Caro, an ecologists who studies animal coloration at the University of California. They observed zebras, white horses and black horses. They then dressed some horses in black and white coat.
They found out that far fewer flies landed on zebra and the horses dressed in stripes.The flies would try to land on the stripes, but then lose control as they approach the striped surface, and bounce off.
Recently, scientists took a step further and noticed that people in the olden days in Africa, Asia and Australia used to paint their body when going to the wild. Could they know something we don’t? So, scientists bought mannequins and left some alone while painting others with markings similar to the tribal paintings.
They discovered that horseflies bite the unpainted mannequins ten times more when compared to the painted ones.
Interesting right? The beauty of ancient science.
Some people have started applying this by painting cows with stripes and results have shown less bug bites amongst these cows.
Each zebra’s stripes are unique. Just as no two human fingerprints are alike, no two zebras have the same stripe pattern.
Each species of zebra has a different general pattern of stripes.
Arojinle the Animal Scientist