Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

How the zebra got its stripes

February 09, 2012
If there was a 'Just So' story for how the zebra got its stripes, I'm sure that Rudyard Kipling would have come up with an amusing and entertaining camouflage explanation. But would he have come up with the explanation that Gábor Horváth, Susanne kesson and colleagues from Hungary and Sweden have: that zebra's stripes stave off blood-sucking insects? The team publishes their discovery that zebra stripes is the least attractive hide pattern for voracious horsefiles in the Journal of Experimental Biology at http://jeb.biologists.org/.

Horseflies (tabanids) deliver nasty bites, carry disease and distract grazing animals from feeding. According to Horváth and colleagues, these insects are attracted to horizontally polarized light because reflections from water are horizontally polarized and aquatic insects use this phenomenon to identify stretches of water where they can mate and lay eggs. However, blood-sucking female tabanids are also guided to victims by linearly polarized light reflected from their hides. Explaining that horseflies are more attracted to dark horses than to white horses, the team also points out that developing zebra embryos start out with a dark skin, but go on to develop white stripes before birth. The team wondered whether the zebra's stripy hide might have evolved to disrupt their attractive dark skins and make them less appealing to voracious bloodsuckers, such as tabanids.

Travelling to a horsefly-infested horse farm near Budapest, the team tested how attractive these blood-sucking insects found black and white stripes by varying the width, density and angle of the stripes and the direction of polarization of the light that they reflected. Trapping attracted insects with oil and glue, the team found that the striped patterns attracted fewer flies as the stripes became narrower, with the narrowest stripes attracting the fewest tabanids.

The team then tested the attractiveness of white, dark and striped horse models. Suspecting that the striped horse would attract an intermediate number of flies between the white and dark models, the team was surprised to find that the striped model was the least attractive of all.

Finally, when the team measured the stripe widths and polarization patterns of light reflected from real zebra hides, they found that the zebra's pattern correlated well with the patterns that were least attractive to horseflies.

'We conclude that zebras have evolved a coat pattern in which the stripes are narrow enough to ensure minimum attractiveness to tabanid flies', says the team and they add, 'The selection pressure for striped coat patterns as a response to blood-sucking dipteran parasites is probably high in this region [Africa]'.

The Company of Biologists


Related Zebra Current Events and Zebra News Articles


Causes of Great Lakes smelt population decline are complex
The reasons for the dwindling population of smelt prey fish in the Great Lakes to near historic lows are more complicated than previously believed, new research from Purdue University and collaborators suggests.

Why do zebras have stripes?
One of nature's fascinating questions is how zebras got their stripes. A team of life scientists led by UCLA's Brenda Larison has found at least part of the answer: The amount and intensity of striping can be best predicted by the temperature of the environment in which zebras live.

Invasive species in the Great Lakes by 2063
The Great Lakes have been invaded by more non-native species than any other freshwater ecosystem in the world.

Dragnet for epilepsy genes
An international team of scientists together with the University of Bonn Hospital have taken a new path in the research into causes of epilepsy: The researchers determined the networks of the active genes and, like a dragnet, looked for the "main perpetrators" using a computer model.

International team maps 'big bang' of bird evolution
The first findings of the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium are being reported nearly simultaneously in 28 papers -- eight papers in a Dec. 12 special issue of Science and 20 more in Genome Biology, GigaScience and other journals. The full set of papers in Science and other journals can be accessed at avian.genomics.cn

Chickens and turkeys 'closer to dinosaur ancestors' than other birds
New research from the University of Kent suggests that chickens and turkeys have experienced fewer gross genomic changes than other birds as they evolved from their dinosaur ancestor.

Fathering offspring is more than just a race to the egg
The chance of a male fathering offspring may not be a simple race to the egg, but is influenced by the length of the male's sperm, say scientists from the University of Sheffield.

Pair bonding reinforced in the brain
In addition to their song, songbirds also have an extensive repertoire of calls.

Finding Durable Foul-Release Coatings to Control Invasive Mussel Attachment Highlighted in Bureau of Reclamation Study
The Bureau of Reclamation has released a report summarizing six years of testing coatings to control the attachment of quagga and zebra mussels to water and power facilities. Since the study began in 2008, Reclamation has tested more than 100 coatings and materials.

Lake Erie increasingly susceptible to large cyanobacteria blooms
Lake Erie has become increasingly susceptible to large blooms of toxin-producing cyanobacteria since 2002, potentially complicating efforts to rein in the problem in the wake of this year's Toledo drinking water crisis, according to a new study led by University of Michigan researchers.
More Zebra Current Events and Zebra News Articles

Zebra

Zebra
by Clark Howard (Author)


Zebra: The True Account Of The 179 Days Of Terror In San Francisco, by Howard, Clark

How the Zebra Got Its Stripes (Little Golden Book)

How the Zebra Got Its Stripes (Little Golden Book)
by Justine Fontes (Author), Ron Fontes (Author), Peter Grosshauser (Illustrator)


As a group of African animals hang out at the local watering hole, they share funny stories about how the zebra got its stripes. At the end of the book, fun facts explain why zebras really have stripes. For any child intrigued by zebras, this colorful, informative book is a must!

Zebras (African Animals)

Zebras (African Animals)
by Catherine Ipcizade (Author)


Discusses zebras, their African habitat, food, and behavior.

On Beyond Zebra! (Classic Seuss)

On Beyond Zebra! (Classic Seuss)
by Dr. Seuss (Author)


If you think the alphabet stops with Z, you are wrong. So wrong. Leave it to Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell (with a little help from Dr. Seuss) to create an entirely new alphabet beginning with Z! This rhyming picture book introduces twenty new letters and the creatures that one can spell with them. Discover (and spell) such wonderfully Seussian creations as the Yuzz-a-ma-Tuzz and the High Gargel-orum. Readers young and old will be giggling from beginning to end . . . or should we say, from Yuzz to Hi!

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition
by Robert M. Sapolsky (Author)


Renowned primatologist Robert Sapolsky offers a completely revised and updated edition of his most popular work, with nearly 90,000 copies in print

Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky's acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress.
As Sapolsky explains, most of us do not lie awake at night worrying about whether we have leprosy or malaria. Instead, the diseases we fear-and the ones that plague us now-are illnesses brought on by the slow accumulation of damage, such as heart disease and cancer. When we worry or experience stress, our body turns on the same physiological responses that an...

The Zebra Said Shhh

The Zebra Said Shhh
by M. R. Nelson (Author), Tamia Sheldon (Illustrator)


An exhausted zebra is ready for bed but the other animals at the zoo still want to play. Help the Zebra say “Shh” to the lions, elephants and other noisy animals at the zoo. A calming bedtime book for little monkeys everywhere.

Zebras: Fun Facts & Pictures For Kids

Zebras: Fun Facts & Pictures For Kids


Have you ever seen a zebra, perhaps in a book or a magazine, on television, or online? Chances are that you have. What did you think of them? They look like striped horses, but they actually are not horses, and they have their own unique traits.

This short eBook for kids presents facts on the zebra. It is written in an engaging and interactive style, and encourages kids to use their imaginations and think about the material. The facts presented range from the reasons why zebras have stripes, to how fast zebras can run, to the zebra’s facial expression.



Amazing Animals: Zebras

Amazing Animals: Zebras
by Kate Riggs (Author)


A basic exploration of the appearance, behavior, and habitat of zebras, the striped African horses. Also included is a story from folklore explaining how zebras came to have striped fur. From humpbacked camels to drumming woodpeckers, and from fast-flying hummingbirds to slow-moving tortoises, the world of animals is wonderfully diverse. This popular and newly expanded series continues traveling the planet to study these and other fascinating animals. Beautiful photos are paired with accessible text to examine the featured creature's appearance, habitat, behaviors, and life cycle. Each book also presents a folk story that people have used to help explain the animal's appearance or behavior.

What If the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?

What If the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?
by John Reitano (Author), William Haines (Illustrator)


If the zebras lost their stripes and became different from one another, some white and some black, would they turn and fight each other and stop living life as loving friends?.

Zebras (Wild Ones)

Zebras (Wild Ones)
by Jill Anderson (Author)


With simple, direct words and clear, close-up color photo images, this small book in the Wild Ones series does an excellent job of introducing preschoolers to the basic facts.Far from the usual tedious account, this enlivens the astonishing facts of the giant. —-BOOKLIST (Giraffes)These books present colorful, clear, often close-up photos...Excellent choices for young reader or for read alouds. —-SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

© 2015 BrightSurf.com