Scientists claim to have found the answer to the longstanding question about why zebras have stripes.
It appears the zebras’ stripes make terrible landing strips for flies, new research has found. The pattern is confusing to blood-sucking, disease carrying flies that try to feast on zebras, according to researchers.
Researchers carried out experiments demonstrating that horse flies like those found in zebras’ natural habitat have a difficult time landing on the pattern but can landing easily on other horses.
The conclusion was reached by scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of California, who dressed horses in black-and-white striped coats and single-colour coats.
They found fewer flies landed on the horses wearing the striped coats.
Martin How, a member of the team from the University of Bristol, said: “Stripes may dazzle the flies in some way once they are close enough to see them with their low-resolution eyes.”
The research is being reported in the journal Public Library of Science ONE.