Wild Fact #975 – Optical Illusion – Zebra

zebra-camo

Before we get into today’s fact I am going to ask you what colour is the zebra? Is it black with white stripes or white with black stripes?  I want you to think about this and I will provide the answer at the end of the today’s fact (don’t even think about scrolling down to cheat!).

Whether the zebra is black or white is irrelevant since I want to talk about the purpose of these stripes.  Believe it or not the zebra is not striped just to make a fashion statement to all other members of the horse family.  No, the stripes actually serve several purposes.  For starters, it is believed that the stripes offer some sort of camoflage for zebras.  I know you are probably thinking that they stick out like a sore thumb so how can it possibly be for camoflage.  Well, predators such as lions are coloured blind so they may actually have a tough time distinguishing between tall grass and a perfectly motionless zebra.  As well, when a lion sees a herd of 10 zebras it may look  like one massive striped blob to them.  The stripes of one zebra blends in wih the stripes of another so the lion has difficulty distinguishing individual zebras. As well, when a herd of zebras split up and begin running in different directions, the lion has a tough time determining which zebra is coming or going.

Okay, so the stripes of the zebra are able to confuse their main predator but does it also confuse their friends, other zebras? Believe it or not, the stripes actually act as distinguishing marks for other zebras.  They are able to tell each other apart by the striped pattern. Basically, it is like each zebra is wearing one of those “Hello My Name Is___________” tags on its shoulder. Each zebra is striped differently so just like human fingerprints, no two are the same!

All right, so what is it? Are zebra’s black with white stripes or white with black stripes? It was originally believed that zebra’s were white with black stripes since the underbelly is also white; however, embryological evidence suggests that the zebra’s background colour is black and the white stripes are simply the absence of pigmentation.  There you have it, zebra’s are black with white stripes!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Have a great weekend!

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