Evolutionists have updated Kipling’s fanciful story, “How the Leopard Got Its Spots,” with a new, improved, scientific tale, “How the Zebra Got Its Stripes.”  They actually gathered empirical data to show for it.  Not all evolutionists are convinced, however, that it changes the genre from just-so story to scientific explanation.

So how did the zebra get its stripes?  Previous theories explained the stripes as camouflage to confuse predators, as body temperature regulators, or patterns for recognizing mates, but none have proven satisfactory alone.  The new story is that they evolved the elaborate coat patterns to repel horseflies.  PhysOrg reported how Gabor Horvath, Susanne Akesson and colleagues from Hungary and Sweden performed field experiments to show that striped patterns attracted fewer bloodsucking insects.  BBC News shows the experimental setup.  The team erected four fake horses in a horsefly-infested field.  They were dressed in black, white, brown and striped hides coated with sticky material to catch bugs.  By surprise, the striped pattern attracted fewer flies than the light and dark hides.

The scientists even came up with a physical explanation.  The stripes defeat the polarized light the bugs use to hone in on their targets.  ““We conclude that zebras have evolved a coat pattern in which the stripes are narrow enough to ensure minimum attractiveness to tabanid flies,” the team said.  “The selection pressure for striped coat patterns as a response to blood-sucking dipteran parasites is probably high in this region,” meaning Africa, even though the experiment was conducted in a field near Budapest.

Rachel Kaufman at National Geographic News had some words of caution about this explanation:

1.  The study was not conducted on live zebras, but on models.

2.  it was not conducted in Africa, where the zebras live….

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