Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? | COLOSSAL QUESTIONS
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Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? | COLOSSAL QUESTIONS

January 8, 2020

– [Narrator] There’s few
creatures in the animal kingdom quite as bizarre as zebras. Its majestic striped
coat is like something out of a fantasy land. And yet, they live
right here on Earth. So what’s the deal? Why do zebras have
such distinct stripes? Let’s find out on
today’s episode of– – [Announcer]
“Colossal Questions.” – [Narrator] There’s three
basic species of zebra, mountain zebras, Grevy’s
zebras, and plains zebras. Mountain zebras have hard
hooves to climb and keep balance on rugged rocks. Grecy’s zebras are
giant and donkey-like, with big round ears. And plains zebras are both
the smallest and most common. When you picture a zebra, chances are you imagine
a white horse-like animal with black stripes all over it. But it’s actually the opposite. Zebras are actually black
creatures with white stripes. Every singe zebra
has its very own set of unique stripes, kind
of like a fingerprint. Biologists can’t say for sure why zebras have such
distinct stripes, but they have developed some
theories over the years. For a long time, experts
thought stripes might be a way for zebras to camouflage. You see, a wild zebra’s main
predator is the mighty lion, which just so happens
to be colorblind. So, to a lion, a striped
zebra blends in much better with tall grasses than
a solid-colored horse. But today, most zoologists
think that a zebra’s stripes have less to do with camouflage and more to do with regulating
their body temperature. Here’s how. Scientists began noticing
that zebras in hotter climates tended to have more stripes. Tests have backed it up too. The more stripes a zebra has,
the hotter its environment. So how does having stripes
help keep them cool? Most experts say it’s
all about airflow. Black stripes absorb
more heat than white, so air moves faster
along black stripes and slower along white ones. This causes air to
swirl and cool the skin wherever the stripes touch. The more stripes they have, the more air can swirl
around and cool a zebra down. So, why do zebras have stripes? Because the Serengeti
gets really, really hot. And zebras don’t get
to wear sunscreen.

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