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In the Journal of Natural History , Alison Cobb makes the case that it keeps the animal cool by surrounding it with dozens of tiny pockets of atmospheric turbulence. Mrs Cobb and her husband and co-author, Stephen, 71, lived in Kenya, southern Sudan and Mali during the late s and s. Their paper draws on an…. Get The International Pack for free for your first 30 days for unlimited Smartphone and Tablet access. Already a member?
Although most people tend to think of the zebra as a white animal with black stripes, scientists have discovered that the zebra is actually a black animal with white stripes. Much like a fingerprint , the stripes on a zebra are unique. No two animals have the same pattern. But why do they have stripes at all? Whether roaming around the zoo or running across the Serengeti, the zebra is an animal that sticks out. The zebra's black and white striped pattern could not be more obvious.
Zebras are famous for their contrasting black and white stripes—but until very recently no one really knew why they sport their unusual striped.
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Before the solid-coated and dappled thoroughbreds that usually come to mind when we hear the word " horse ," there was the zebra. One of the oldest members of the horse family, the African zebra seems far more exotic than common horses and donkeys. However, it closely resembles the earliest equine ancestors [source: Groves ]. Zoologists have yet to unravel all of the genetic mysteries that lie behind the zebra's signature striped suit. The alternating color pattern works well with its native environment, deflecting up to 70 percent of the heat that hits its body [source: The International Museum of the Horse ]. The arrangement of the stripes adds another intriguing dimension to the animal's biology since each zebra has a completely unique design. In particular, the stripes on its shoulders, or withers , contain the most individualized markings [source: The International Museum of the Horse ].
Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys , zebras have never been truly domesticated. The latter resembles an ass , to which zebras are closely related, while the former two look more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus , along with other living equids.
Zebras are famous for their contrasting black and white stripes—but until very recently no one really knew why they sport their unusual striped pattern. Since then many ideas have been put on the table but only in the last few years have there been serious attempts to test them. These ideas fall into four main categories: Zebras are striped to evade capture by predators, zebras are striped for social reasons, zebras are striped to keep cool, or they have stripes to avoid attack by biting flies. Only the last one stands up to scrutiny. And our latest research helps fill in more of the details on why.