The scientists that turned a cow into a zebra

Scientists discover the real reason for the fashionable selection of zebra stripes.

Matanel Rot ,


Who knows why a zebra wear pajamas? After years of research, the answer to the well-known question seems to have finally emerged and it's relevant to other animals as well.

The question about the zebra stripes has been engaging children and researchers for many years. In the past, it was thought that the stripes were due to the need for camouflage but new researchers found an original reason for zebra fashion and decided to dress cows and horses in black and white as well

A few years ago, a British team of researchers decided to check once and for all the reason for the unique zebra stripes. Because it's not easy to approach the zebras in the wild, the researchers went to a ranch of domesticated zebras to investigate the matter in depth. After a prolonged study of the zebras and horses on the ranch, it was discovered that the advantage of the stripes is not camouflage against predators, but rather to drive away mosquitoes and flies.

It is still unclear exactly why, but mosquitoes and flies approached both zebras and horses but in practice only landed on the horses. The mosquitoes and flies approached the zebras but instead of landing on them they just passed by them or even accidentally collided with them. Researchers speculate that zebra stripes blind the mosquitoes and flies, and it may be related to the optical illusion that causes those looking at stripes to feel as if they're moving.

Recently, researchers decided to take this study one step further and try to use the zebra's natural protection for other animals as well. The researchers dressed a number of horses in a striped dress that would protect them from mosquitoes and were able to reduce the number of mosquito bites the horses received.

Similarly, Japanese researchers tested the effect of stripes on a herd of black cows, and colored them with white stripes. After a few months it was found that the painted cows were bitten fifty percent less than the unpainted cows. According to the Japanese researchers, stripes can reduce the use of regular pesticides against mosquitoes.

So the next time you want to avoid mosquito bites, you might just try wearing stripes. Because if it works for cows and horses - there's no reason it won't help you also.