ZEBRA AND THEIR STRIPES:
If you were a curious child like I was, you would have come across this question at least 10 times during the course of your childhood WHENEVER IT CAME TO THINKING ABOUT ANIMALS, and surprisingly the question remains unanswered till date: ARE ZEBRAS BLACK OR WHITE?
The enigmatic fur on these zebras making us elude ourselves into an abstract transitional phase all along could lead anyone to come up with this question and make us over think and over analyse about the very same as well. Not only regular humans, but scientists till date have been mulling over the same question themselves.
There is no doubt when it comes to the question of zebra’s having their origins inbuilt with that of the horse family. Their body structure and the elongated face which is like any other normal horse is the answer to the same. The only difference that could be pointed out in relation to when it comes down to comparing the family of zebras with that of the horses and donkeys is that:
“ZEBRAS HAVE NEVER TRULY BEEN DOMESTICATED”
Zebras have been with the human civilization since the last 4 million years and have been known to be “in the wild” ever since. This breed of old horses tends to stand out the most and relatively are the only ones which look the most accurately similar to the breed of earliest EQUINE ancestors of the horses. Which allows for them to enjoy the status of being the most exotic animals belonging to the regions of Africa (mostly Kenya) the “biological mystery” behind their stripes have made them one of the most infamous tourist attractions.
There are 3 types of Zebras classified into the following:
- The Plain Zebras
- The Grevys Zebras
- The Mountain Zebras
The difference between them is that the first two are classified as being horses whereas the last one is known to belong to the donkey family. Though all of them belong to the family; EQUUS that comes under the broader umbrella family tree of EQUID.
All the above mentioned Zebras are believed to have bold stripes in comparison to other African grazers like the buffalo and the antelope.
Like said earlier scientists have been greatly puzzled with the same theory of stripes as well- scientists like Darwin and other great scientists have come to a divine conclusive theory stating that there are 5 major reasons for the stripe formation in the Zebras as we know today. These 5 main hypothesis are of the following:
- STRIPES HELP IN REDUCING BODY TEMPERATURE:
It is believed that the black and white stripes help the Zebras to contain their body heat and provides for resistance against heat and helps absorbs the heat, turning it into a cool drizzle for the zebras inside, helping them in crossing and covering large distance and areas with a lesser amount of time.
- STRIPES HELP ZEBRAS TO INTERACT SOCIALLY:
One of the theories deduces that because the stripes are so similar in nature to each other, it helps the herds that move along together when covering large distances off the shore in order to identify each other easily and allows for social interactions to happen within these tribes in a more unified manner.
- STRIPES HELP ZEBRAS REPEL INSECTS:
Like discussed earlier, Zebras are generally found in Africa which is prone to many reptiles and insects that end up sucking out the blood out of these poor Zebras. The theory has been deduced in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STUDY wherein the paper NATURE CALLS published by a Zebra expert and a Princeton-graduate Daniel Rubenstein who attained masters in the field of Zoology deduced this theory of blood sucking flies that get repelled by the stripes present on their bodies.
- STRIPES HELP ZEBRAS IN CONFUSING PREDATORS:
It is believed that the “motion dazzle” provided for by these stripes on zebras allows for them to easily hide themselves from their obvious predators; “the lions” which gives them the opportunity to hide from the lion as and when they flock together, making it hard for the lion to choose a specific target. Zebras generally have a lot of stamina and have a night vision ability that is complimented with great eye sight – allowing for them to swish past through the lions in no time!
Lions are colour-blind which allows the zebras to take full advantage of their black and white colour combination, making it hard for their predators to be able to catch them. This confusion that is caused to create perplexities in the minds of a lion allows for the zebra herd to distinguish one herd from another, making it an advantage for them.
- STRIPES HELP ZEBRAS IN PROVIDING FOR CAMOUFLAGE:
A simple army type camouflage pattern allows the zebra to protect itself from unwanted enemies. An open savannah that is triggered because of Zebras allows for them to protect themselves from the Lions- this particular pattern was even used by ships during the First World War.
The stripes allowing for zebras to find themselves mates easily and more effectively too. Vegetation is also provided for by the same.
These and many theories have been deduced, not a single one being triggered down as THE one reason for the stripes being there or not.
The debate has been moved past many stages and has deduced many conclusive theories within these theories and because zebras cannot be really domesticated- they are too wild and have peculiar demands that may only be provided by the nature itself.
Thus the question remains unanswered and a cryptic mystery to all!!
Sorry to disappoint yourself any my childhood curiosities!