Animal prints are so-in-trend these days. However, we never see a zebra stripe print anywhere other than the zebra crossing, do we? Did you know that zebra stripes are used to dazzle the blood-sucking flies that land on the animal’s skin? Well, research conducted in this aspect gave some serious revelations.
The University of Bristol gets the credit for revealing such a bizarre fact as they conducted research for the same. The researchers conducted an experiment that had zebras and horses dressed in black and white striped coats that’d give the perception of zebra. The flies gathered around both the animals at the same rate but landed on zebras a quarter as often. The flies landed on the uncovered head of the horse a lot more than the striped area.
Usually, the flies would come too fast and when they’d reach the striped area, the flies would not land at all. The flies would just fly past the area or sometimes bump into the zebra as well. According to study leader Professor Tim Caro, from the University of California at Davis, US, this activity of flies indicate that the stripes may disrupt the ability of flies to have a controlled landing.
Dr. Martin who is also a member of the research team said that stripes in some way stripes affect the flies’ ability to see, once they come close enough and can see the stripes with their low-resolution eyes. This can be compared to human pilots when they try to land on the sun. The humans will eventually lose their sight if too much light went straight into the eyes.
This study took place in the UK, at a horse farm in Somerset which had both domesticated horses and zebras. The purpose of stripes was not particularly known and has been a mystery to many people. There were conjectures about how the function of stripes is related to camouflage and it could confuse the predator about the presence of zebras, it was later said that the stripes help other zebras to find their mate and also that it helps in maintaining the system of heat control.
The recent studies like this one have suggested that the stripes save zebras from getting bit by flies. To be safe from flies, the zebras also swish their tails continuously. The study got published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE.