Why do zebras have black and white stripes?

Zebra is one of the most recognizable animals on Earth thanks to its distinctive black and white striped. Many scientists study the effect of these stripes and give different explanations.

Recently, in a post in the British Journal of the Royal Society, researchers at Eotvos Lorand University (Budapest, Hungary) gave a new explanation. It is a zebra that ‘uses’ body stripes as a way to prevent blood-sucking insects.

Scientists observed zebra and brown horses in Hungary, where many species of insects suck blood in the summer months. The results showed that the brown horses were 10 times more stung by insects than zebras

They also experimented on a group of volunteer body painters. One group painted another color and one group painted black and white stripes like zebra. The results are similar to those for horses.

Explaining this, the team thinks that alternating black and white stripes work to scatter light, making it harder for blood-sucking insects to see the target. Aboriginal Africans and Australians also often use the way of drawing stripes on their bodies to prevent insects. Painting color also has the other effect of reducing irritation from the bite.

Before this explanation, many theories about the effect of black and white stripes were given. Some scientists argue that it is a way to disguise to hide young horses among big horses; makes predators easy to be dazzled to detect; or help regulate body temperature.

In addition, zebra black and white stripes also bring significant social benefits, helping them recognize each other. This is especially important in visual communication between mother horses and their offspring.

These explanations are published in world-renowned scientific journals and are controversial. Most of them have not been confirmed experimentally. Therefore, the exact effect of the zebra and black stripes of the zebra has not yet been concluded.

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