Why are zebras striped?

Zebras are known to be striped, and to the question “Why?” The scientists have so far responded to the assumption that contrasting coloration allows zebras to more efficiently regulate body temperature. It was assumed that over the intensively absorbing light of the black strips, the air moves faster, over the reflecting white – more slowly, and therefore over the zebra is constantly created microcirculation, which contributes to the removal of excess heat in the hot savannah.

A group of biologists from Switzerland tested this hypothesis by experiment. Barrels of water covered with skins of cows, horses and zebras and left in the sun. In addition, there were barrels painted with black and white paint. After a while scientists measured the temperature of the barrel surface. As expected, the black was the hottest, and the white one was the coldest, but the temperature of the barrels, covered with skins, depended not on the pattern, but on the color; a uniform gray hide protected the barrel from the sun just as well as the striped zebra skin similar to it in the middle white. The experiment was repeated several times in different weather; The speed and direction of the wind were also taken into account, but the result was the same under all conditions.

The question of why the zebra of its strips remains open. There are assumptions about the masking function of the bands and that banding is the result of sexual selection; it is also possible that contrasting colors discourage insects. However, to completely reject the hypothesis of the connection between the strips and thermoregulation is not necessary; recently biologists from the University of California found a link between the average temperature in the area where the zebra lives, and the number of strips. The colder the climate, the less striped zebras; scientists took into account 29 environmental factors, including the presence or absence of stinging insects, and the most noticeable effect was the air temperature

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x