Scientists shocked to discover the truth about Zebra stripes

Scientists shocked to discover the truth about Zebra stripes

You probably thought the zebra had stripes in order to evade predators — but new research indicates you’re wrong. A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE on Friday indicates that the purpose of zebra stripes is still a mystery — but it’s almost certainly not to provide camouflage to the zebra, according to […]

You probably thought the zebra had stripes in order to evade predators — but new research indicates you’re wrong.

A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE on Friday indicates that the purpose of zebra stripes is still a mystery — but it’s almost certainly not to provide camouflage to the zebra, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.

Many theories have been put forward to explain the strange and spectacular black and white stripes of the zebra, which makes the animal stand out in our minds. Now that “confusing predators” is no longer a likely reason, that leaves other plausible theories like controlling body temperature, social cohesion, and protection against insects that carry disease. However, scientists have no idea which it is — or if it’s another reason altogether.

The reason why the new research indicates that confusing predators is no longer a possible answer is that the stripes wouldn’t be visible to predators until they were so close that they had almost certainly spotted or smelled the zebra anyway.

The researchers arrived at this conclusion by taking digital pictures of zebras in Tanzania and then running through color and spatial filters. This helps them see what the zebra looks like to certain predators at certain distances. They also measured the width and contrast of the stripes. The results indicated that suggestions of zebras using stripes for camouflage were based on nothing more than casual observations based on the human eye, not the eyes of predators.

So now it’s back to the drawing board to figure out why zebras really have them.

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