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Stripey and Mum

Kyle McLeod

Weimar, United States

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Artist's Description

The striping pattern of the zebra is unique among sympatric ungulates. One suggested function for the stripes is to camouflage the animal in tall grass or in the dappled shade beneath bushes and trees. However, animals that use camouflage, like the kudu and bushbuck, tend to be quiet and stealthy. They freeze when there is danger and flee only at the last moment. By contrast, the zebra is active and noisy, and makes no attempt to hide itself. Another suggestion is that the stripes affect a predator’s judgement of the zebra’s size, distance and what direction it is going in. However, zebra stripes do not appear to affect any of these. A related hypothesis is that the stripes make it difficult for a predator to single out and learn about on an individual during a chase. Perhaps the best explanation for the stripes is that they serve a social function. Individual zebras can apparently recognize each other by their striping patterns. The stripes may also serve as visual cues for grooming. In addition, they could serve to help zebra groups stay together when they are fleeing.

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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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