Once again: Why do zebras have stripes? (And once again the answer: it’s the flies, stupid!)

Why Evolution Is True

Over the past three years I’ve written about research, mostly by Tim Caro’s group, dealing with the perpetual question: “Why do zebras have stripes?” (See earlier posts here, here, and here.) There used to be lots of hypotheses, including confusing predators like lions, aiding thermoregulation, camouflaging these equids, keeping groups together, and so on, but research has demolished these hypotheses one by one (for example, striped animals are no more camouflaged to predators than are solid-colored animals.)

Rather, evidence has been accumulating that stripes help deter biting flies, particularly tabanid flies (horseflies) and tsetse flies that not only draw blood but, more dangerously, carry disease that can kill zebras. It’s been shown, for instance, that the ranges of striped equids all fall within the ranges of biting flies, and that these flies can carry diseases like equine influenza, African horse sickness, equine infectious anaemia, and trypanosomiasis, all…

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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at https://utopiayouarestandinginit.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/why-call-my-blog-utopia-you-are-standing-in-it/

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