Zebra stripes have fascinated both children and scientists for a very long time, as the cause of the black and white pattern remained somewhat of a mystery, debated by competing theories. The old-age inquiry, “why do zebras have stripes?” has been replied by researchers. Specialists have found numerous conceivable reasons in the past in respect to why zebras have stripes, including disguise to help them escape hunters, to dodge stings from ailment-carrying bugs, and to control body warm by “creating small-scale breezes” over their bodes when light and black stripes get hot at an alternate rate. Now the answer seems to be the last option: zebra stripes are a heat-coping mechanism.
Analysts at the University of California at Los Angeles have recently analyzed how 29 distinctive ecological variables influence stripe patterns of zebras in an area extending from south to central Africa. The researchers discovered that there was practically an immediate connection between the stripes on a zebra’s back and the climate in a zebra’s surroundings. On the contrary, the stripes did not relate to the presence of lions or tsetse flies in their specific locale. Consequently, the researchers have inferred that back stripes on zebras may, in fact, help zebras handle their body temperature rather than keep them away from predators or flies carrying diseases.
Zebras particularly require a body temperature regulation method (named thermoregulation), as they process their nutritive elements with more difficulty than other creatures. This implies that they exposed much longer to the African heat to get the necessary food as compared to other grazers.
The research also uncovered that zebras with more distinct back stripes, inhabited mostly the Northern, tropical locale of their area in Africa, while those with less pronounced torso stripes were more present in the Southern, cooler areas. This discovery backs the thermoregulation theory for the zebra stripes.
Brenda Larison, co-creator of the research noted that the correlation between color and temperature is complex. Ravens, for instance, hold their dark feathers apart from their skin to make a breeze effect. Larison added that together with her team, they already managed gather some basic evidence that the zebra’s high contrast stripes keep its outside temperature lower than that of different creatures of a comparable size, implying that zebra stripes work surprisingly well.
Tim Caro, a researcher at the University of California, stated that this recent examination prompts some other hypotheses about zebra stripes. He emphasized that contrary to popular beliefs it is clear that the zebra stripes have nothing to do with befuddling predators.
The experts will now test their thermoregulation theory. They will purportedly do it by either examining the conduct of air flows over zebra pelts, or by implanting temperature trackers to wild zebras.
Image Source: List Verse