The striped coloration of zebras is their unique feature. But why do they have such an unusual color? There are several versions that explain this phenomenon.
One version says that zebras are striped for camouflage. Black and white stripes divide the silhouette of the animal into parts, and the eye of a predator does not perceive it as a whole. In addition, it is easier for a striped animal to hide in the grass. In 2015, scientists discovered another reason – the skin of zebras in the sun heats up less than the skin of other ungulates in the same climate. Dark-colored and light-colored stripes are heated differently, and air convection is obtained – a kind of natural air conditioner.
The second version claims that blood-sucking insects land worse on dark stripes. Scientists have found confirmation of this version. Flies do not respond well to bright, contrasting stripes. Obviously, fewer flies land on zebras: they are less susceptible to various parasitic diseases, the pathogens of which are carried by blood-sucking insects.
But how did zebra stripes appear? It is believed that striped individuals first appeared in the course of mutation or the work of hidden genes. Elements of striping are found in both domestic and wild horses, as well as donkeys. But their stripes are not as contrasting as those of zebras. The striping and contrast of the stripes increased from generation to generation, because the striped individuals turned out to be more viable. This turned out to be an evolutionarily advantageous adaptive trait for the population.
As Professor Markus Claussen from Lund University in Sweden points out:
“Zebras are a great example of how evolution can create unique and adaptive traits.”
Thus, zebras are striped not only because of camouflage or protection from insects, but also because of an evolutionary process that has made this trait advantageous for survival.
Each animal species has its own unique characteristics, and zebras, thanks to their striped coloration, boast their uniqueness and adaptability.