Ever Wondered Why Zebras Are Striped? Find Out The Answer Here

A thorough study on Zebra stripes reveals that they were evolved to repel flies.

The mystery of the Zebra stripes has teased human curiosity for centuries.

Evolutionary scientists, including Darwin himself, have sought an answer to this simple, yet perplexing question: why do Zebras have stripes?

Finally, the mystery might be solved or at least close to it. Thanks to a recent study published in the online journal Nature Communications, we are now pretty certain that the stripes are there to repel blood-thirsty flies.

Over the course of history, five main hypotheses surfaced in attempts to explain the phenomenon:

·         Stripes repel insects.

·         They provide camouflage.

·         They confuse predators.

·         They reduce body temperature.

·         They help the Zebras interact socially.

In the most thorough study to date on the subject, scientists created a statistical model to pitch all the hypotheses against eachother and the results strongly supported the first one.

Study leader Tim Caro, a biologist at the University of California, Davis described the results.

“We found again and again and again [that] the only factor which is highly associated with striping is to ban biting flies. I was delighted to see the results were so strong in one direction.”

However, Brenda Larison, a biologist at the University of California – Los Angeles, was of a different opinion. According to her, the new study’s approach is “broad brush,” and that there is a need for more specific research.

Even though Larison agrees that this is the “best supported hypothesis to date, most of the other hypotheses aren’t well studied, and there is still a lack of direct evidence.” She further states that, “the story is likely to be much more complex, and this is unlikely to be the last word on the subject”.

Finally, the mystery has been brought closest to resolution, if not resolved itself. Thanks to a recent study published in the online journal Nature Communications, we are now pretty certain that the stripes are there to repel blood-thirsty flies.

 Over the course of history, five main hypotheses surfaced in attempts to explain the phenomenon:

·         Stripes repel insects.

·         They provide camouflage.

·         They confuse predators.

·         They reduce body temperature.

·         They help the Zebras interact socially.

In the most thorough study to date on the subject, scientists created a statistical model to pitch all the hypotheses against eachother and the results strongly supported the first one.

Study leader Tim Caro, a biologist at the University of California, Davis described the results, “We found again and again and again [that] the only factor which is highly associated with striping is to ban biting flies.” He further added that, “I was delighted to see the results were so strong in one direction.”

However, Brenda Larison, a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, was of a different opinion. According to her, the new study’s approach is “broad brush,” and that there is a need for more specific research.

Even though Larison agrees that this is the “best supported hypothesis to date, most of the other hypotheses aren’t well studied, and there is still a lack of direct evidence,” she further states that, “the story is likely to be much more complex, and this is unlikely to be the last word on the subject.”

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