Animals / Mammal Facts / Zebra - Why White with Black Stripes?

Zebra - Why White with Black Stripes?


mountain

mountain zebras

 

Members of the equid (horse) family, zebras are any member of three different species who all can be identified by their distinctive black and white striped pattern.

 

 

plains

 

The plains zebra, which very closely resembles a horse, can be found anywhere in southern or eastern Africa, and is the most common of all zebras, and has about 12 sub-species.

The mountain zebra is also very horse-like, has narrower stripes than a plains zebra, and can be found in southwest Africa; it has only 2 sub-species. 

 

grevys

Grevy's zebra

 

Finally, there's the Grevy's zebra, which looks very much like a mule (it's the largest of all but has a narrow mule-like head), and can only be found in Ethiopia and Kenya.

All the species inhabit grasslands, savannas, woodlands, thorny scrub lands, mountains and coastal hills. The Grevy's and mountain breeds are both considered to be endangered species. The common plains species is about 50–52 inches (1.3 m) at the shoulder with a body ranging from 6–8.5 feet (2–2.6 m) long, an 18 inch (0.5 m) tail, and a body-weight of up to 770 pounds (350 kg).

 

drinking

 

Zebras are known to live in herds, and to communicate via audio cues. They also show their mood via their ear placement (like a dog's tail).

 

pack

 

As previously stated, zebras are of course best known for their stripe pattern but many of the experts are still questioning why exactly they evolved that way.

Common theories include:
1. Grass camouflage - it's thought they appear gray to lions when hiding in grass.
2. Group camouflage - the pattern confuses predators into thinking that the herd is one giant animal.
3. Visual identification - this theory posits that zebras can tell each other apart from their stripe patterns.
4. A means of confusing tsetse flies - the pattern disrupts their senses.
5. The stripes coincide with sub-cutaneous fat patterns.

Also, to answer the famous question about which is the base color and which is the color of the stripes: zebras are in fact white with black stripes.

 

black legged

 

 

 

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