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Scientists Solve Mystery of Why Zebras Have Stripes

One of life’s biggest mysteries has finally been solved! Scientists have figured out why zebras have stripes.

Some of the theories have included protection from predators, mating rituals, protection from the heat, camouflage and many more. Despite all of these theories, there has been no evidence to support any of them.

Researchers at the University of California-Davis released a paper in Nature Communications on Tuesday that discusses the reason why zebras have stripes, according to the Huffington Post. The reason for the stripes is that they help protect the zebras from biting flies that carry diseases.

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“No one knew why zebras have such striking coloration,” wrote Tim Caro, lead author and a UC Davis professor of wildlife biology. “But solving evolutionary conundrums increases our knowledge of the natural world and may spark greater commitment to conserving it.”

The theory of the biting fly has been proposed before, mainly because flies tend to stay away from black-and-white striped surfaces.

The researchers who worked on the project discussed the geographic distribution of zebras, horses and asses. They also noted the differences in the zebra stripe patterns. Then they overlapped the data with temperature, predator range, terrain and biting fly distribution.

“I was amazed by our results,” wrote Caro. “Again and again, there was greater striping on areas of the body in those parts of the world where there was more annoyance from biting flies.”

One reason for why zebras have stripes and other hooved animals do not is that the hair on zebras is much shorter, providing flies easier access to the skin.

“No one knew why zebras have such striking coloration,” Caro said. “But solving evolutionary conundrums increases our knowledge of the natural world and may spark greater commitment to conserving it.”

Caro said that despite solving one riddle, they know have to work on another; why biting flies tend to avoid stripes on animals.

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