Zebra stripes may 'dazzle' pathogen-packing horse flies, say scientists
Saturday, February 23, 2019
In findings published on Wednesday in, scientists from the and say may have gotten their stripes to confuse ectoparasites, such as flies.
The researchers observedaround zebras and domestic in captive settings and they found the flies had a harder time landing on zebras than on the monochrome coats of the horses.
Results showed the horse flies hovered over both types of animals at roughly the same rate but, over zebras, they did not always slow down fast enough to land successfully. They then equipped horses with both zebra-striped and unstriped cloths and again observed that the flies had trouble landing on the striped surfaces.
"This reduced ability to land on the zebra's coat may be due to stripes disrupting the visual system of the horse flies during their final moments of approach. Stripes may dazzle flies in some way once they are close enough to see them with their low-resolution eyes[,]" said study co-author andMartin How.
Scientists have long wondered about the evolutionary impetus behind zebras' coat patterns. Other hypotheses include the idea that stripes may confuse predators, facilitate social interactions within the herd, and regulate body temperature.
In Africa, where zebras evolved, flies can carry dangerous blood-borne pathogens.
- Nirmal Narayanan. "Research reveals how Zebra got its black and white stripes" — , February 22, 2019
- University of Bristol. "Research reveals why the zebra got its stripes" — , February 20, 2019
- Tim Caro, Yvette Argueta, Emmanuelle Sophie Briolat, Joren Bruggink, Maurice Kasprowsky, Jai Lake, Matthew J. Mitchell, Sarah Richardson, Martin How. "Benefits of zebra stripes: Behaviour of tabanid flies around zebras and horses" — , February 20, 2019