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New idea on how the zebra got its stripes

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Posted January 15, 2015

A small team of researchers affiliated with the University of California has found little evidence to support prior theoretical explanations of why zebras have evolved to have stripes and instead suggest that temperature appears to be a factor. In their paper published in Royal Society Open Science, the team describes how they tested other theories and found them wanting and instead found temperature variation to be a predictive factor in striping.

zebra

A photo showing two Zebras in Mikumi National Park. Credit: Sajjad Sherally Fazel / Wikipedia. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

People throughout history have wondered about the black and white stripes displayed by zebras, many asking themselves what caused the evolutionary changes that led to the unique design. Many ideas have been put forth, from suggestions that the stripes ward off flies, to ideas that they somehow confuse lions when they are in a herd. In this new effort, the researchers looked at many of the most prominent ideas and tested them for soundness. They also noted that there is considerable stripe variation among the zebras depending on where they live.

Read more at: Phys.org

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