A Stripe-y Masquerade!

Housefly Image: Bruce Marlin / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

Zebras are known to have black and white stripes…it’s like their trademark, right?

But what is the significance of their stripes?
? Earlier research pointed towards the most logical reasoning…Zebras have stripes to camouflage themselves to fool predators.
? The other thought was that it was to do with zebras recognizing other zebras through their unique stripe patterns.
? As Scientists further progressed with their research, they found more intricate ideas, like it helps the zebras control their temperatures, as black surfaces trap more heat. 

But here’s what is interesting…
? Recent experiment based findings show that zebras have stripes to ward off…horseflies!

Shoo fly! Don’t bother me!
? Horseflies or tabanids are annoying flies that zebras are not fond of. These blood sucking flies are known to carry and spread diseases.

Abort landing!
? It turns out that the contrast between the black and white stripes creates an optical illusion (aperture effect) which seems to confuse & dazzle the housefly’s low resolution vision.
? The zebra’s striped pattern prevents flies from making a controlled landing which means they fail to slow down or land successfully.
? This happened because the flies believe that the landing surface is further away than they estimate. 

Did you know…
? Zebras are actually black animals with white stripes and not the other way around?

 

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