Our Home and Native Land Shelf
Are zebras black with white stripes or white with black stripes?
Before the solid-coated and dappled thoroughbreds that usually come to mind when we hear the word " horse ," there was the zebra. One of the oldest members of the horse family, the African zebra seems far more exotic than common horses and donkeys. However, it closely resembles the earliest equine ancestors [source: Groves ]. Zoologists have yet to unravel all of the genetic mysteries that lie behind the zebra's signature striped suit. The alternating color pattern works well with its native environment, deflecting up to 70 percent of the heat that hits its body [source: The International Museum of the Horse ]. The arrangement of the stripes adds another intriguing dimension to the animal's biology since each zebra has a completely unique design. In particular, the stripes on its shoulders, or withers , contain the most individualized markings [source: The International Museum of the Horse ].
Zebras are famous for their contrasting black and white stripes—but until very recently no one really knew why they sport their unusual striped.
you had me at meow book
Site Information Navigation
All rights reserved. A leopard may not be able to change its spots, but some zebras change their stripes. Zebras in warmer places have more stripes, a new study shows, which might help answer an age-old question: Why stripes? The answer probably comes down to keeping zebras cool and fending off disease-causing insects that are more common in hotter climates, researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science. All three species of zebra have bold black and white stripes that stand out among more drab-looking African grazers, like buffalo and antelope, especially against a plain savanna background. And standing out would seem to make a zebra more likely to become a lion's lunch. This "stripe riddle" has puzzled scientists, including Darwin, for over a century.
Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys , zebras have never been truly domesticated. The latter resembles an ass , to which zebras are closely related, while the former two look more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus , along with other living equids. The unique stripes of zebras make them one of the animals most familiar to people. They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands , savannas , woodlands , thorny scrublands , mountains , and coastal hills.
Zebras' thick, black stripes may have evolved to help these iconic creatures stay cool in the midday African heat, a new study suggests. Many African animals sport some stripes on their bodies , but none of these patterns contrast as starkly as the zebra's. Researchers have long struggled to explain the purpose of the zebra's unique black-and-white coat. Some have suggested that the stripes may help zebras camouflage themselves and escape from lions and other predators; avoid nasty bites from disease-carrying flies; or control body heat by generating small-scale breezes over the zebra's body when light and dark stripes heat up at different rates. Still, few scientists have tested these explanations, and many argue that the stripes serve a complex mix of purposes. Now, researchers based at the University of California, Los Angeles UCLA have produced one of the most comprehensive zebra stripe studies yet by examining how 29 different environmental variables influence the stripe styles of plains zebras at 16 different sites from south to central Africa. The scientists found that the definition of stripes along a zebra's back most closely correlated with temperature and precipitation in a zebra's environment, and did not correlate with the prevalence of lions or tsetse flies in the region.