Why do zebras have… stripes?

Why the zebra’s body develops the characteristic rows of black and white stripes has been a hotly debated topic in scientific circles for decades. And it wasn’t until recently that a team of researchers from Hungary and Sweden was able to answer this question.

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Their report, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology , shows that the zebra’s body characteristics help them avoid many blood-sucking insects , even flies.

The key to this special ability lies in the rows of stripes that reflect light . “We did our review on groups of black, brown and white horses,” said Susanne Akesson of Lund University, a member of the international research team.

Why do zebras have… stripes?
The characteristics of the zebra’s body make it possible for them to keep away from many blood-sucking insects.

“In the group of black and brown horses (generally dark horses), the storytellers noticed that their bodies emitted light that fluctuated horizontally,” she said.

This effect makes them attractive “bait” for insects. Because that light, when it enters the eye wave of a hungry animal, will travel along a horizontal plane, like a snake slithering under a flat floor. Meanwhile, the team of experts found that many flying insects, including buffalo flies, are always attracted to “flat” light waves.

After discovering this particular hobby, they immediately turned their attention to the group of zebras. They have placed several placards depicting black, white and striped horses of varying widths in the fields of a horse farm in the Hungarian countryside.

“We applied an adhesive to each board. It makes it possible for us to know how many insects are attached to it,” explains Akesson.

“The results showed that on the striped board depicting the zebra’s fur, the number of insects attracted to it was very small, even less than on the white board – the board reflected light without being dispersed. extreme,” Dr. Akesson shared. “In the striped pattern, there are still dark areas of light that fluctuate horizontally but are very narrow. Perhaps this is what makes them so unattractive to insects.”

Why do zebras have… stripes?
The stripes will help protect the zebra from predators.

In addition to helping zebras avoid blood-sucking insects, stripes will help protect zebras from predators by creating an optical illusion .

After using research computer models, scientists from the University of Queensland, Australia discovered that zebra stripes can create an optical illusion when the animal moves, helping it to avoid attack from predators. a wide variety of carnivores and parasitic insects. The results of the study were published in the journal Zoology, the BBC reported.

Scientists previously thought that zebra stripes have the function of transmitting social signals, camouflage at dawn or dusk in grassland environments.