Scientists Finally Solved The Age-Old Mystery About Why Zebras Have Stripes

Zebras have one of the most eye-catching coats in the animal kingdom. Their black and white stripes are instantly recognizable, but why do they sport such a striking pattern? While experts have put forward numerous theories down the years, a new study in August 2020 provided a definitive answer.

Even though there’s still plenty to learn about the natural world, the mystery of the zebra’s stripes has puzzled researchers for decades. However, in all that time, they have failed to come up with a concrete explanation behind the creature’s stripes. According to the BBC Future science website, no less than 18 theories have been put forward over the years.

With that in mind, you may well be wondering why experts found it so difficult to answer the question. Tim Caro offered some insight into this particular point while talking to the BBC in December 2019. Caro is an evolutionary ecologist who has worked extensively on animal behaviour and conservation biology.

In addition to this, Caro has dedicated nearly 20 years of his career to examining zebra coats. He told BBC Future, “People have been talking about zebra stripes for over a hundred years. But it’s just a matter of really doing experiments and thinking clearly about the issue to understand it better.”

On that note, Caro looked to put his expertize to good use in a long-term study about zebra stripes. Around 10 years ago, the ecologist joined three other specialists to compile a report on the subject, hoping to solve the mystery. His colleagues — Alison Irwin, Martin How and Dunia Gonzales — were a team of researchers from both sides of the Atlantic.