Just like other animals evolved to have special features, zebras evolved to have stripes! Scientists have a few different ideas about ways in which a zebra’s stripes have been helpful to this neat-looking animal which all probably have something to do with why zebras have this beautiful, stripy pattern!
One good example is that it’s believed the stripes help zebras to camouflage, hide from, or confuse animals such as lions who hunt for them. Their special coat is also thought to help most zebras with keeping off extra heat and sun! Additionally, the stripes are helpful for identification – every zebra has a completely different pattern so stripes can be used for telling different zebras apart! New research also indicates the colors might help keep away disease-carrying bugs like the horsefly, because the stripes seem to confuse the bugs. COOL!!
When you look at a zebra, do you see a white animal with black stripes, or a black animal with white stripes?! It's funny how your eyes might play tricks on you, making you see it one way at first, and then the other way at second glance!!
What are some other animals you've learned about who have interesting patterns or colors? A peacock is one really good example, and a leopard or a cheetah is another great example! Why do you think these animals each have their interesting appearances? What are some advantages and some disadvantages to having these looks?
Sources & links
“Zebra Profile.” National Geographic. 14 Aug. 2009 <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/zebra.html> “Mammals: Zebra.” Animal Bytes. San Diego Zoo. 14 Aug. 2009 < http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-zebra.html> “Zebra.” African Wildlife Foundation. 14 Aug. 2009 < http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/zebra> “Why zebras are striped.” 11 Feb. 2012. The Economist. 23 Jul. 2012