Zebra stripes may be mainly defense against flies

Fur pattern’s function not for camouflage or cooling, researchers find

By Susan Milius, 12:06 PM April 1, 2014

Protection from flies best explains the function of zebra stripes, says a new analysis.


A head-to-head test of five explanations that researchers have proposed for zebras’ distinctive patterning finds no support for some long-discussed ideas, says Tim Caro of the University of California, Davis. Looking at the ranges and ecology of various zebras and other subspecies of the genus Equus undermines, for example, the notions that stripes camouflage animals in woodlands or dazzle big predators in...

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