Why do zebras have stripes? Did you know that a zebra embryo is all black, and only acquires white stripes late in development?
• Evolutionary biologists have long pondered this. Wallace suggested that stripes provide camouflage in tall grass, but Darwin (1867) cleverly pointed out that zebras roam in open habitats where the grass is short. (Happy Birthday, Mr. Darwin!) Other theories suggest that moving stripes dazzle predators, offer visual communication in courtship or bonding, or thermoregulation (apparently stripes work better in cooling the animal than solid color). Oh, yes, stripes are fashion forward too! (Thank you Fake Science!)
• New research points to an unexpected advantage: protection from horsefly bites. Blood sucking horseflies are more than a nuisance. They spread disease and have negative fitness impact. Horseflies are strongly attracted to horizontally polarized light (waves aligned horizontally), like light reflected from bodies of water, where they lay their eggs and reproduce. Researchers showed that white and black polarize light differently, such that zebra stripes confuse the flies. Using horse models painted in different colors they showed that the best effects in keeping away flies were with natural stripe patterns found in zebras. Leopard spots are so passé.
http://fakescience.tumblr.com/post/1517534535/why-do-zebras-have-stripes #ScienceSunday curated by Allison Sekuler and Robby Bowles .