Stripes? Out in the bush? What could help you to stand out more so than these starkly contrasting black and white lines. Many people wonder what a zebra’s stripes are for and many scientists are trying to figure out this perplexing question.
There are a few theories and chiefly amongst them are thermo-regulation and avoidance of flies who transport deadly diseases.
In terms of thermo-regulation scientists believe that the contrast between the white and black stripes cause a temperature differential over the zebra’s body and thus a micro air current. Think about it this way, if you were to go out into the desert in the middle of the day in a black shirt you’d very quickly heat up, whereas if you went out in a white shirt you’d stay cooler longer. Now combine these two and the black stripe heats faster than the white one, this then causes a rise of the air over the black stripe and a drawing in of the slightly cooler air from the white stripe therefore causing a micro circulatory current over the entirety of the zebra’s body.
This has not been proven yet and is substantiated by the idea that because zebra have such poor digestive systems they need to feed longer into the middle of the day and thus they need the extra thermal regulation.
With regards to the avoidance of flies theory, scientists believe that stripes confuse the flies and thus they stay away from the zebra in favour of more easily recognisable prey such as impala or kudu.