Zebras have stripes as a possible defense mechanism against being bitten by flies, according to 2014 research from the University of California, Davis. They found that there was a higher correlation of striped animal species in areas where biting flies were the most prevalent. However, there is no evidence to demonstrate the reasoning of why exactly flies would be deterred by stripes. Zebras will not typically allow humans to be close enough to observe them in the wild, so scientists have not been able to see firsthand if flies are actively avoiding the zebras’ stripes. Other possible theories of why zebras have stripes include camouflage, social interaction, or to regulate body temperature.
More about zebras:
- Zebras’ stripe patterns differ among the areas in which they live—the farther south in the African plains, the farther apart the stripes are on the zebras.
- Ancient Romans are thought to have trained zebras to pull the carts for their circus performances.
- Zebras can run up to 35 miles (56 km) per hour, and often run in zigzag-like patterns to avoid predators.