Zebra stripes are considered to be the epitome of the Almighty’s stunning creations by plenty. Many have come up with explanations to prove this. Ofcourse, it’s easy for anyone to suggest that those stripes offer good camouflage. However, Charles Darwin ruled out camouflage as the primary reason. Since both sexes are striped alike, Darwin believed that it helps both, male zebras as well as female zebras to choose their mates. Alfred Wallace expressed different thoughts in Darwinism, though: “It is in the evening, or on moonlight nights, when they go to drink, that they are chiefly exposed to attack. In twilight they are not at all conspicuous, the stripes of white and black so merging together into a grey tint it is difficult to see them at a little distance.”
There are various other explanations, ofcourse. One could imagine they are there to tell one zebra kind from another. Keeping out parasites might also be a solid reason for the presence of these stripes. Tim Caro from University of California participated in a study that was also published in Nature Communications this week. Caro and his team attempted to record differences in stripes between different species of zebras, donkeys and horses. Caro was amazed by the results achieved. He noticed that there were more stripes around areas of their bodies that were more irritable due to flies that bite. There have been many studies conducted since the 1930s that suggest that flies hate stripes. All such flies are capable of sucking out good amount of blood too.
Experiments prove that the likes of tsetse flies and horseflies prefer to sit on completely white or black surfaces instead of those stripes. It will be interesting to have a survey focus on the vision of all such flies as to why surfaces with stripes annoy them so much. Who knows, maybe such an educational research might be dished out some day which will save most zoologists from turning their attention to skin problems that zebras might have.