Review of the Science Behind the Black-and-White Zebra

Zebra has a characteristic in the form of striped hair in contrast, black and white. What is the scientific explanation behind the zebra's black and white hair?

The African Wildlife Foundation reveals the stunning black-and-white coloration of the zebra-haired kuit is in stark contrast to the grasslands in which it lives. The zebra comes from the predominant forests of dry, brown-green, treeless grass in East and southern Africa. and the motif of each individual zebra is unique and different. There are three species of zebra alive today, the plains zebra (Equus quagga), the mountain zebra (E. zebra) and the Grevy's zebra (E. grevyi) with each species also having a distinct stripe pattern. For some zebras, the darker part of their skin is black while for others it is brown. Some only have stripes on their bodies, but none on their legs. The Quagga Project says an extinct subspecies of plains zebra called the quagga (E. quagga quagga) had minimal stripes on its head, mane, and neck. Behavioral Ecologists and University of California evolutionary and conservation biologist Tim Caro said that despite the different patterns and colors, all zebras actually have the same skin color. However, this statement does not answer the question of whether their hair is black with white stripes or vice versa. To find out, researchers should look into zebra melanocytes, which produce the pigment for their hair.

According to Caro, although zebras have black skin, different developmental processes determine their hair color, just as light-skinned people can have dark hair. In fact, zebras actually have more light-colored hair than dark ones, for example their belly is usually light. That may be why zebras look white with black stripes. According to a review in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology published in 2005, every strand of zebra hair, light or dark, grows from a follicle filled with melanocytes. produces the pigment that determines hair and skin color. Previously Live Science has also reported that the pigment that produces skin and hair color is known as melanin; more melanin leads to darker colors, such as dark brown or black and less melanin leads to lighter colors, such as hazel or blonde.

Basically, zebra black hair is full of melanin, but melanin is absent in white hair because the follicles that make up the white hair streaks have killed off the melanocytes, which means they don't produce pigment.Caro explained that melanin production from melanocytes is prevented during the development of white hair, but not black hair. In other words, explained Britannica, for zebras the 'fault' state of animals is to produce black hair. From these studies it can be concluded that zebras are black-haired animals with white stripes.


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