News on Wellness

The Story behind STRIPES Unfolds


Zebra stripes and their existence have always triggered the grey cells of researchers for ages. More than a century ago the presence of black and white stripes on zebra skin was first debated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. The hypothesis revolved around the facts that presence of stripes on zebra as well as few horse like species was for their camouflage and protection against predators in the wild. It was also thought that stripes have a role in managing the body heat of animals and have a social function.


Until recently a team from University of California led by wildlife biologist Dr. Tim Caro came across some recent findings. The study reveals that geographical distribution pattern of tsetse fly or tabanid biting fly determines the stripes in zebras. This work was published in Nature Communications on 1st of April 2014.

The interesting facts that came up is evolutionary presence of stripes could be traced back. To this researcher Tim Caro adds,”But solving evolutionary conundrums increases our knowledge of the natural world and may spark greater commitment to conserving it.”

In certain regions of this globe the predatory flies have their presence felt. Zebras and similar species have stripes to hide from biting predators.  Tsetse flies or horse flies have more effect on zebra, as their bite leads to gain in body weight in these mammals, reduce the hair coat as well as lower their milk production. They also spread disease among species.

Researchers are convinced that susceptibility to ecto parasite attack along with environmental factors influence the presence of stripes. The number and pattern of facial and neck stripes, the thickness of flank, rump and belly striping, the shadow striping, the distance between the leg stripes are all part of this adaptation.

With the riddle of stripes finally solved researches can correlate the distribution pattern of predatory flies and understand wildlife adaptation better.


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