Why does a Zebra have stripes


  • Why does a zebra have stripes? It is a question that has intrigued generations of scientists, including Charles Darwin, and they have proposed a number of possible answers over the years.
  • Research into the subject continues, with the latest study published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the Royal Society B’. While this study looks extensively into one possible reason why a zebra has stripes — that these helps confuse blood-sucking parasites.

So, what are these ideas?


  • The stripes provide the zebra with camouflage from predators by creating a kind of optical illusion.
  • The stripes on a zebra blends with the lines of the tall grass around it.
  • This might not work for a human observer, but zebra’s main predator, lion is colour-blind.
  • A lion would not be able to differentiate between zebra stripes and lines of grass.
  1. Temperature regulation:
  • By this theory, the stripes help a zebra keep cool in the heat.
  • The temperature of the black stripes is considerably warmer than that of the white stripes.
  • These temperature differences cause air flows between the black and white stripes, which could help cool the zebras by speeding up evaporation of sweat.
  1. Mutual recognition:
  • Every individual zebra has a unique pattern of stripes, just like every human has a unique set of fingerprints.
  • This hypothesis goes that the unique stripes help individual zebras recognise one another.
  1. Confusing bloodsuckers:
  • According to the latest theory, the black and white stripes create an optical illusion (barber-pole effect) for flies and other parasites that would have sucked on the zebra’s blood.
  • Because of the stripes, flies miscalculate the moment when and speed at which they should land on the zebra.

Source: Indian Express

Leave a Reply