Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes?

There are three species of zebra living today: the plains zebra (Equus quagga), the mountain zebra (E. zebra), and the Grevy’s donkey (E. grevyi) (REUTERS)

zebras From icons to their distinctive coats, but Have you ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes?

The amazing black and white color of zebra skin Standing out in stark contrast to the dry, brown, green, treeless grasslands and savannahs of their native lands in eastern and southern Africa, to me African Wildlife Foundation.

These lines are unique to each individual. There is Three species of zebra live today: the plains zebra (Equus Quagga), mountain zebra (E. zebra(The Grevy’s zebra)E. grevyi), Each of these types also has a different bar style. for some, The darker parts of their skin are black, while others are more brown and some have streaks only on the body but not on the legs. Extinct subspecies of Plains zebra named quaggaE. quagga quagga) It had minimal stripes on the head, mane, and neck, according to Quagga Project.

Although these are different patterns and colors, All zebras have the same skin color: nigger”, She said Tim Karoo Evolutionary and behavioral ecologist and conservation biologist University of California at Davis. However, this does not answer the question of whether the fur is black with white stripes or vice versa. Therefore, we have to look at melanocytes From zebras, or the cells that produce the pigment for their fur.

Each hair strand, whether light or dark, grows from a follicle full of melanocytes (Reuters)
Each hair strand, whether light or dark, grows from a follicle full of melanocytes (Reuters)

“Although zebras have leather black, Various development processes determine the color of her coatA fair-skinned man can also have dark hair.” Dear. In fact, zebras actually They have more light-colored hair than dark, Their stomachs are usually light, so zebras may look white with black stripes.

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But this is not the case. Here is the reason: Each hair strand, both light and dark, grows from a follicle filled with melanocytes, According to a 2005 review published in Journal of Investigative Dermatology. these cells Produces a pigment that determines the color of hair and skin. This pigment is known as melanin; Too much melanin produces darker colours, like dark brown or black, While less melanin produces lighter colours, Like hazel or blond. Black zebra’s fur is full of melanin, but melanin is absent from white fur, mainly because the follicles that make up the white hair bands have “dulled” melanocytes, which means they don’t produce pigment.

Melanin production by melanocytes “It is avoided during growth of white hair but not black hair”, to explain Dear a in a letter. In other words, to Zebras, the default state of the animals is to produce black hair, making it black with white stripes, according to British.

This unique pattern may keep flies away, according to research by Caro and colleagues (Reuters)
This unique pattern may keep flies away, according to research by Caro and colleagues (Reuters)

The exact biological processes behind zebra stripes are unknown, but In African striped miceRhabdomys pumilio), who have light and dark streaks along their hairy bodies, The Alx3 gene is more active along the lighter lines than on the dark linesAccording to a study published in 2016 in the journal temper nature. Alex3 Effectively blocks the main regulatory gene responsible for melanocyte development, which results in light-colored hair.

Then, Why is zebra black with white stripes? This unique style He can keep biting the flies away, According to the investigation by Dear and his colleagues. In a study published in 2020 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society BAnd they found it The African horse flycatcher landed less often on horses that use striped or square carpets less often than on horses that use hard carpets. These stinging flies can transmit diseases that are fatal to zebras.

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“fact, There are very few mammals with contrasting stripes like the zebra,” confirmed Dear. “The okapi He has similar lines on the rump, but other than that, No other species has truly distinctive black and white stripes. I suppose the function of deterring flies is unique to equids because they are very susceptible to diseases transmitted by certain bites of flies in Africa.”

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Freddie Dawson

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