Scientists have come up with another explanation for why zebras have stripes

23 February, 2019, 20:41 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Zebras are seen at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi Kenya

Specialists conducted a series of experiments that refute the two most common theories about the necessity of bands of zebras. For reasons of clarity, the part of the horses dressed up in a "striped coat" and treated the secret of zebras to match odors.

Professor Tim Caro, Honorary Research Fellow from the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, said: "Horse flies just seem to fly over zebra stripes or bump into them, but this didn't happen with horses".

The zebra stripes did not deter flies from afar; both zebras and uncovered domestic horses experienced the same rate of circling flies.

More recent research has suggested that somehow the stripes reduce the chances of a zebra being bitten by flies.

Besides the costume changes-scientists dressed up horses and zebras in black, white, and black and white stripes-they also watched up close when flies tried to land on zebras and made detailed videos to record the flies' flight patterns when they cruised close to zebras.

If you ever learned anything about zebras growing up, the key fact about their stripes you might believe is accurate might not be accurate at all. He added that the most likely mechanisms for the deterrent effect are either that the "sudden reveal" of the stripes on close approach either surprised the insects and made them veer off, or interfered with their perception of how fast objects were moving past them, affecting their ability to land.

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It's important to note that zebras also behave differently from horses in the presence of flies.

The goal of the black-and-white markings has always been a mystery.

To confirm that it was indeed coat pattern that was thwarting the flies' precision, the researchers kitted some of the horses out in three cloth jackets: one white, one black and one zebra-striped. Zebras exhibited preventative behaviour, such as running away and tail swishing at a far higher rate than horses. Zebras swish their tails nearly continuously during the day to keep flies off, stop eating when flies bother them, and run away if the flies are particularly persistent.

In Africa where zebras are native, horse flies carry risky debilitating diseases such as trypanosomiasis and African horse sickness which cause wasting and often death.

The evolution of the zebra's black & white coat has intrigued scientists for years.

The bugs were still attracted to the zebras, and still pursued them from a distance, but couldn't nail the landing when they got close.



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