Monday, 26 October 2020

Zebra stripes are designed to dazzle ?

 Zebra stripes are designed to dazzle?

There are almost as many theories about the appearance of zebras as they have stripes, but research by biologists at the University of Bristol has added weight to the leading hypothesis. Their recent paper reports that zebra stripes are probably a form of disruptive coloration, just not in the way that had been suspected.

Previous work by the Bristol team, using domestic horses wearing patterned rugs, showed that stripes are most likely a response to bothersome biting flies. Those studies found that the blood-sucking parasites spot stripy horses as easily as plain ones, meaning zebra stripes are not an effective anti-fly camouflage. But stripy targets do still fool the flies, since they fail to slow down or land successfully.

In their new research, the scientists examined whether zebra stripes dazzle flies using the same optical illusion as the barber-pole signs once common outside hairdressers. What they found was surprising. Flies have equal difficulty landing on striped and checked patterns. In other words, while we probably now have a reasonable idea what zebra stripes do, we can’t yet explain why zebras have stripy rather than checked coats.

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