Zebra stripes, besides looking very cool, help to ward off biting flies, a new study finds.
The research, published in Nature Communications, negates the popular theory that zebra stripes evolved for camouflage against predators.
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How did the camouflage theory originate in the first place then? Many animals do sport fur, skin, feathers and more that match their environments, making them more difficult to find.
Let's face it, though. Zebras stand out like fashion show supermodels against most any background.
Lead author Tim Caro of the University of California at Davis and colleagues, however, do mention that "humans find moving striped objects difficult to target accurately on a computer screen, suggesting a possible motion dazzle confusion effect."
A running zebra might then puzzle predators, but Caro and his team could find no consistent evidence for that after studying all seven existing wild equid species. (This group includes zebras, along with wild horses and wild asses.) Not all of these animals are striped. Przewalski's horse, for example, is usually solid brown in color.