There are plenty of conundrums that evolution has thrown up which are still left unanswered. The classic question of why zebras sport black and white stripes is one such issue which has been plaguing evolutionary biologists for centuries.
But, Tim Caro, a biologist at the University of California at Davis might finally have the answer to this long standing stripes problem. Zebra stripes help the animals in avoiding blood sucking parasites.
That’s right! All that contrast and pattern was adopted to just keep away those pesky flies which feast on the blood of the zebras. The research conducted by the team used horse mannequins painted in a variety of patterns and found that most flies avoided the fake horse that was painted in black and white stripes.
The research team led by Caro though found a direct correlation between geographical areas with conditions that favored the flies and the increase in the presence of striped species of an animal.
Since the hot and humid tropics often play host to most of these insect vampires, it also makes sense that it is the tropical animals that are most often the ones bright stripes.
While the research might not be the final word on the topic, it does go a long way in answering this age old striped problem that first came up during the time of Darwin and Wallace.
Others though still contend that the stripes could be a way to fend off predators, attract potential mates or even to keep cool in the hot tropics.
And, if Tim Caro is right, then maybe it is time to paint your RV in black and white stripes to avoid those pesky mosquitoes and flies next time you go camping… Maybe!