Science & Equine

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Written by Anouk van Breukelen

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Benefits of zebra stripes

The function of zebra stripes has been of interest to scientist for over 150 years. Many hypotheses have been proven to be untrue, for example: a function in thermoregulation, social benefits or confusion of predators. However, there is an increasing consensus among biologists that the function of black and white stripes is to avoid attacks of horse flies.

Observations show that fewer horse flies landed on zebras than horses. The number of horse flies circling around and briefly touching zebras and horses did not differ. In addition, horses wearing a striped blanket had less horse flies landing on them. In conclusion, up close, striped surfaces prevented flies from making a controlled landing but it did not influence that behaviour of flies at a distance.

> From: Caro et al., PLoS ONE 14 (2019) e0210831. All rights reserved to Caro et al.. Click here for the online summary.

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