Is there a concensus yet on the function of Zebra stripes?
I've read theories about "disruptive camouflage," night camouflage, camouflage against the Tsetse fly, heat exchange, herd identification. Or, perhaps, all of these theories apply.
theory #1 Zebra stripes have often been thought to be an adaptation that prevents zebras from being seen by predators such as lions or hyenas.
theory #2 it may serve to confuse a predator as to the distance of the fleeing animal
theory #3 the stripes serve to obliterate a large single-colored region that is favored by biting insects such as the tsetse fly. These flies prefer large, dark, moving animals
I'm interested in the zebra-stripes as well. I heard there are at least 5 theories, so it's probably a mixture. We made a lot of thermographic images of animals, including zebra's and girafes. The goal was to learn a little about energy-efficiëncy tools of mother nature. Black and white stripes generate a significant temperature difference. You can see the same effect by giraffes and a lot of other animals with patterns. It might be a ventilation system, promote blood-circulation, just guessing, not an expert. You can find a lot of these images at http://www.nutscode.com. Additional stories about other animals are welcome
wow thats so interesting to me
I'm thinking its the "confuse predator theor," because the main predatory animals (excluding nile crocidile) are color blind, so the black and white stripes really messes with eyes to single out...pretty effective.
wisdom=the anti-venom for failure
Yes besides breaking up the animals outline it also confuses lions when they attack a mass of moving black and white stripes can sometimes be enough to throw an inexperienced hunter off for a split second.
Also maybe the stripes act as a sort of fingerprint or signature for baby foals to home into helping them if they become separated from the herd?
There is a consensus:
1) Lions prey on Zebras even though they are (Zebras) striped. However, stripes might reduce the individual risk as long as the animals stay in herds.
2) Stripe-Patterns of Zebras vary from species to species (there are four with more subspecies). There is a significant correlation between stripe pattern and occurrence of tsetse. Species living outside tsetse-territory tend to loose the stripes - for example the extinct (by men, not lion or tsetse) Quagga.
3) Systematic research leads to the theory, that the ancient relatives of Zebras came from Asia to Africa, already carrying a smooth camouflage pattern. On the way to the south, the animals crossed the tsetse-belt and the typical zebra stripe pattern was selected. Later on, zebras spread all over Africa.
4) It is a scientific fact, that tsetse-flies are day-active, recognize prey visually and - they can't see Zebras. Contrary to other herbivores (Gazelles, Antelopes) in tsetse-territory, nagana disease almost doesn’t exist among zebras.
5) Therefore, zebras are primarily striped because of the tsetse-fly. Secondarily, the stripes might also decrease the individual risk of serving as prey for lions.
6) Excuse the spelling, I am German.
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