Zebras are beloved for their stunning black and white stripes, but scientists are still trying to figure out the reason behind these amazing coats. There are lots of different ideas, from camouflage to insect repellent!
Some scientists think that zebras’ stripes create an optical illusion making it harder for lions to see where the individuals in a herd are. Even the military has used this sort of optical illusion, called dazzle camouflage—they used to paint ships with black and white stripes to make it harder to see the vessels’ outlines. Another idea is that the stripes help keep the zebras cool—air might travel at different speeds over black fur and white fur, causing convection currents that act like a fan. Other scientists have found that biting flies are less likely to bite animals with stripes like a zebra—they found this out by putting zebra-striped coats on horses and keeping track of how many bugs tried to bite them!
Photo by Bernd Falkenberg