[ExI] Critter's Dilemma on the African Plain

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Aug 14 05:37:18 UTC 2008

> [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of BillK
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Critter's Dilemma on the African Plain
> The interesting point is why are the stripes black and white?
> Their environment is the brown - green plains of Africa.
> The answer is that their main predator, the lion, is color-blind.
> But who told the zebras !!??
> Was there an early zebra scientist doing dangerous color 
> tests on lions?
> BillK

This puzzled me as well, but I had an insight.  The zebra isn't using the
stripes as camoflage, since the zebras generally hang together in a herd.
It isn't difficult to find a herd of anything, but there may be a survival
strategy that would suggest black and white stripes.  If a lion were running
beside a running zebra, the stripes might actually make it more difficult to
see exactly where to strike.  It might actually become confusing to the
persuing predator, with the stripes creating a jumbly mess.  The lion might
perceive something like this:


So if that is the case, then the reason the stripes are black and white is
to *maximize* the contrast between the two colors and also the contrast with
the green and brown background.

Evolution is soooo kewallll.


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