Zebra Stripe Mystery Solved, Researchers Say
Stripes help deter biting flies, not lions
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2014 3:15 AM CDT
Zebras stand in their enclosure at a German zoo.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(Newser) – The centuries-old puzzle of why zebras have stripes has been solved, and they're not there to confuse lions or for decoration, researchers say. A new study backs up the theory that stripes evolved as a way to deter biting flies, Real Clear Science reports. Researchers gathered stripe pattern data on a variety of equids and discovered that the animals were a lot more likely to have stripes if they lived somewhere plagued by biting flies—like the plains of Africa.

"I was amazed by our results," the lead researcher says. "Again and again, there was greater striping on areas of the body in those parts of the world where there was more annoyance from biting flies." Earlier research revealed that biting flies don't like to land on striped surfaces, though scientists aren't sure why this is, the Christian Science Monitor reports. No word on whether people wearing striped clothes will enjoy similar benefits.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Zebra Stripe Mystery Solved, Researchers Say is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 45 comments
Apr 3, 2014 12:42 AM CDT
Why haven't African people evolved to have stripes?
Apr 2, 2014 10:31 PM CDT
A zebra died and went to heaven but just before going through the Pearly Gates he asked St. Peter "I have to know". "Am I a white zebra with black stripes or a black zebra with white stripes"? St. Peter said, "Ask St. Francis, he is the patron saint of animals". So the zebra went to St. Francis as St. Peter watched them have a brief discussion. The zebra came back with an even more puzzled look and asked St. Peter, "I still don't understand what I am". St. Peter asked, "what did he say"? The zebra replied, "he said, you are what you are, that didn't answer my question". St. Peter chuckled "my son, you are a white zebra with black stripes". The zebra looked astonished "what makes you say that"? St. Peter smiled and said "if you were a black zebra with white stripes St. Francis would have said "you is what you is".
Apr 2, 2014 10:01 PM CDT
BULLCRAP! The stripes are to give predators vertigo and fumble their attacks!!!