Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Contact us    |    Advertise    |   Help   RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon
    Home  ·  News  ·  Forum  ·  Stories  ·  Image Gallery  ·  Columns  ·  Encyclopedia  ·  Videos
Find: in

Scientists solve why zebras have stripes

Posted on Wednesday, 2 April, 2014 | Comment icon 36 comments

Why do zebras have stripes ? Image Credit: John Storr
A new study has revealed the strongest evidence yet that the stripes help to deter biting insects.
The precise purpose of a zebra's stripes had remained something of a mystery for years with some of the more common theories ranging from providing camouflage to reducing body temperature.

The answer, as it turns out, is that the stripes on a zebra, like on several other animals, serve to help keep away biting insects. By analyzing and comparing a number of factors pertaining to each of the most popular hypotheses, researchers were able to rule out the facts that didn't fit and identify those that did, such as the discovery that most of the species that do possess stripes like those of a zebra tend to live in countries where biting flies most commonly prove to be a problem.

"We found again and again and again [that] the only factor which is highly associated with striping is to ban biting flies," said study leader Tim Caro. "I was delighted to see the results were so strong in one direction."

Source: National Geographic | Comments (36)

Tags: Zebra, Stripes

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #27 Posted by aquatus1 on 4 April, 2014, 0:46
Good for you. I'm sure a lot of people agree. Pretending a researcher should drop whatever he's doing because you don't think its worthwhile and go research something you approve of is still silly. And rather presumptuous.
Comment icon #28 Posted by freetoroam on 4 April, 2014, 1:21
My initial post mentioned to research why man is killing off the wildlife.......which is what Tim is also doing....which is what I find WORTHWHILE, not stripe spotting! It does not mean they have to stop what they are doing, as long as the research for personal interests are not being funded by the tax payers, they can do what ever they like. I di not get where you are getting political agenda and pretending from. This story is about scientists researching zebra stripes, which I find a waste of time and a waste of money, as a hobby then thats up to them....if it had been about the resear... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by aquatus1 on 4 April, 2014, 3:31
Your initial post complained about funding being used for stripe research, instead of investigating the human brain. Hardly. He's investigating human impact on the environment, of course, like pretty much any field biologist. The closest he's come to researching man killing off wildlife is a paper on behavioral ecology, which is more along the lines of the evolutionary behaviour patterns of animals in response to changes in their environment, than humans directly killing them. His paper on weaponry evolved by female gazelles is more along the lines. Again, good for you. "Tim... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by JGirl on 4 April, 2014, 3:37
this is basically what i learned too, and also that when they are in a herd it's very difficult for the predator to attack the hind end because it cannot distinguish it from the other body parts. the idea that this is merely to ward off biting insects is not only silly to me, but i notice there is no detailed information in the article to explain the study or it's findings. btw if striping were a way to keep away biting flies it would work for humans as well. i'm sure those who live in blackfly country would all be dressed like zebras lol
Comment icon #31 Posted by Wickian on 4 April, 2014, 5:19
I always assumed they had stripes because somewhere along their evolutionary path they got very vain and wanted to start showing the other horses up...
Comment icon #32 Posted by toast on 4 April, 2014, 10:25
To avoid flies, that`s funny! I do not think the the evolution processed such pattern just to make the life of zebras more comfortable. (Ok, mosquitos are able to transfer causative organisms, but I will exclude this fact here.) If there is such an effect I`m sure it`s just a side-effect but not the main reason for that zebra pattern/colors. I`m sure the main reason is another one. Zebras are gregarious animals so the pattern might be designed to complicate the visual cognition of a single animal within a group of zebras, and its by predators targeted body sections like the neck, by predat... [More]
Comment icon #33 Posted by freetoroam on 4 April, 2014, 11:26
Man you are on a mission! Taking apart sentences and twisting the point is ridiculous. I will draw a line under this and will stick to my original post......"complaining" is by far an over exaggeration.
Comment icon #34 Posted by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR: on 11 April, 2014, 11:54
I was hoping these scientists also determined whether zebras were black with white stripes or vice versa.
Comment icon #35 Posted by Cerbero on 11 April, 2014, 21:19
I thought it had the purpose of making sexy underwear seriously, I dont think its just to avoid flies... the most logical reason has to be to protect them from the hotter seasons sun
Comment icon #36 Posted by mackbolin on 14 April, 2014, 0:28
mmmmm....will this work for mosquitoes.

Please Login or Register to post a comment.

  On the forums
Forum posts:
Forum topics:


Giant alligator filmed walking on golf course
The massive reptile took golfers completely by surprise as it casually strolled towards a nearby lake.
Rare illness makes people think they are dead
A rare condition called Walking Corpse Syndrome leaves sufferers feeling as though they are zombies.
Students report seeing 'alien' in Argentina
Three witnesses claimed to have encountered the entity around one week ago in the city of Santa Cruz.
Kids in China climb 2,500ft cliff to school
One school in China is so inaccessible that pupils have to climb down a huge cliff just to get there.
Featured Videos
Gallery icon 
How to sell nothing
Posted 5-31-2016 | 1 comment
Tim returns with a look at some intriguing items which contain absolutely nothing at all.
What if the world ended ?
Posted 5-30-2016 | 4 comments
What would happen in the event of an apocalypse ? Could you survive ?
Why does white noise make you fall asleep ?
Posted 5-29-2016 | 3 comments
What is it about the sound of white noise that sends people off to sleep ?
Simulating Mars atop a volcano
Posted 5-28-2016 | 0 comments
Six scientists have been living an isolated existence to simulate a mission to Mars.
Seeking new antibiotics under the sea
Posted 5-27-2016 | 1 comment
Scientists are seeking new treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections beneath the waves.
 View: More videos
Stories & Experiences
Not in our jurisdiction
5-2-2016 | California, United States
Zippers and headlights
5-2-2016 | Raleigh, United States
Spinning, voiceless and breathless
5-2-2016 | Garland, Texas
4-15-2016 | United States
The mysterious awakening
4-6-2016 | Los Angeles, California
Chocolate fairy? Really?
4-6-2016 | United Kingdom
Christmas Day haunting
4-6-2016 | London, UK
The funeral director
3-30-2016 | Hebburn, England
A strange sighting in Spain
3-30-2016 | Albatera, Spain
Dust patterns on basement floor
3-27-2016 | Smithville, Texas

         More stories | Send us your story
Top   |  Home   |   Forum   |   News   |   Image Gallery   |  Columns   |   Encyclopedia   |   Videos   |   Polls
UM-X 10.7 2001-2015
Privacy Policy and Disclaimer   |   Cookies   |   Advertise   |   Contact   |   Help/FAQ