A team of researchers has just revealed the reason why zebras have the black and white stripe pattern on their bodies. According to their study, the zebra stripes are not just for esthetic purposes, but play a very important role in keeping the animals cool in very hot temperatures.
The researchers explained that the monochromatic pattern helps protect the zebra skin from the hot sun of the African savannas. The black and white zebra stripes have as special way of absorbing and giving off heat which creates currents of air that are refreshing from the animals and help them regulate their body temperature.
For their study, the researchers analyzed zebras from 16 locations with very different living conditions like vegetation, weather and other species of animals present in the area (lions, flies, etc.)
Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that zebras that live in the areas with the hottest temperatures have more stripes on their bodies. The scientists said this proves that there is a link between the temperature and the zebra stripes pattern. Also, the zebras living in the tropics tend to have the blackest stripes.
Before this new study, scientists believed that zebras have developed their stripes as a defense mechanism against potential predators, like the lions. The scientists previously believe that the black and white stripes pattern creates a sort of an optical illusion that can dazzle the lion so they won’t attack the zebras.
The researchers from the University of California who were involved in the study said that there were not many lions in the areas where the zebras with darker or more stripes lived.
Also, the researchers said that the zebra stripes did not seem to scare flies away from the animals.
Brenda Larison, one of the researchers involved in the study said that zebra stripes patterns varies from region to region. For example, in some areas some zebras have blacker stripes on the whole body, while in other areas the stripes do not cover the entire body and the stripes are thinner and not that dark in color.
Larison added that her team of researchers examined 29 African areas and found that the zebra stripes vary from one region to another.
Image Source: zoo.org.au