From many years, evolutionists have been trying to resolve the mystery of how zebras got their stripes.  In their minds, they had to have started out as one color or the other, which means that they must have evolved their stripes, but they have no clue as to what caused the stripes to evolve.

There’s an old Ugandan folktale that tells how the zebra got its stripes.  It goes like this:

Long, long ago there were no donkeys.  But there were a lot of donkeys.  The donkeys worked hard each and every day.  They had no time to play or to relax.  It was just work, work, work.

The donkeys carried heavy bundles.  They carried the bundles from miles, but they never felt appreciated for the work they did.  One day two donkeys got fed up.  They decided they did not want to work all the time.  Instead, they wanted to graze in the green fields.  They wanted to drink from clear streams, and they wanted to lie on soft grass.

The donkeys went to see a wise old man.  They told him their problem.  The wise old man thought and thought.  He agreed that they worked too hard, and he wanted to help the donkeys.

Then suddenly the wise old man jumped up.  “I have an idea,” he said.  “What is your idea?” asked the donkeys.  “I am going to paint you,” said the man.  “I will paint you, and no one will know you are donkeys.”

The wise old man went off to find some paint, and he returned in just a matter of minutes.  He had two pots of paint.  One pot was filled with white paint, and the other was filled with black paint.  The old man began to paint the donkeys.  First he pained them white, and then he painted black stripes over the white paint.

When he was finished, the donkeys did not look at all like donkeys.  “You no longer look like donkeys,” the wise old man said.  “Everyone will be fooled.  I will call you something else.  I will call you zebras.”  The zebras went to a field to graze.  No one bothered them, and they did not have to work.  Instead, they lay in the grass and slept.

Soon other donkeys saw the zebras.  They asked the zebras where they came from.  When the zebras told the donkeys their secret, the donkeys all rushed to see the wise old man.  “Make us into zebras, too,” they pleaded.  So the wise old man painted more donkeys.  As he did, more and more donkeys came.

The old man could not paint fast enough.  Soon the donkeys became impatient.  They began to kick and stir about, and they knocked over the paint pots.  There was no more paint.  The painted donkeys ran off to become zebras.  The unpainted donkeys, because of their impatience, had to return to work.  This is why both zebras and donkeys roam the earth.  This is also why it is important to be patient.

Of course we recognize this is nothing more than a cute fairytale, but there is a new fairytale floating around the scientific world.

A team of researchers from Hungary and Sweden have been studying zebras and their stripes believe that they have solved the evolutionary mystery of how the zebras got their stripes.  They claim that zebras evolved their stripes to keep away blood-sucking flies.

They started out studying horses with white, brown and black coats.  They discovered that horses with the darker colored coats reflected a horizontally polarized light that actually attracted flies.  With the polarized light being reflected along a horizontal plane, it meant that the flies reacted to the light horizontally and not vertically.

When they studied the horse with white coats, they found that it reflected light in all directions, vertically and horizontally.  The result is that horses with lighter coats are less attractive to the flies than were the darker colored coats.

This caused them to wonder what happens in zebras.  So they painted boards various colors and patterns and placed them a horse barn area to see how they attracted flies.  One board was black, one was white and several had varying widths of black and white stripes painted on them.  The boards were set in placed and covered with insect glue.  After a given period of time, they counted the number of flies on each board and found that the black boards had the most flies and the board with the stripes that more closely matched those of zebras had the fewest number of flies.

Next the researchers placed three-dimensional targets in the field to repeat the test using something more horse-like.  One target was white, one black, one brown and one black and white zebra striped.  After two days, they again counted the number of flies and again found that the zebra-striped target had far fewer flies than the others.

Therefore based upon their findings, they concluded that zebras evolved their narrow striped pattern in order to reduce the amount of fly bites.

But what they fail to provide is how the zebras decided to evolve stripes.  They didn’t explain how the zebra managed to evolve the genetic code that allowed them to develop stripes, since they imply that the trait was not present at some time in the distant past.

Without being able to explain the unanswered questions involved in suddenly evolving stripes, the conclusion of this study is no more credible than the Ugandan fairytale.


Gill, Victoria. Zebra stripes evolved to keep biting flies at bay, BBC Nature, Feb. 9, 2012.

Jenson, Ned.  How Zebras Got Their Stripes.

Zebra Stripes Repel Bloodsucking Flies, RedOrbit, Feb. 10, 2012.

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