Is the zebra black with white stripes or white with black stripes?

Answer by Rory Young:

During the colonial era all zebras were white with black stripes. They are now all black with white stripes.

Seriously though, they used to be believed to be white with black stripes because the underbelly is white. They are now however believed to be black with white stripes.

Melanocyte skin cells "activate" the dark hair pigmentation. In the case of the white stripes this development is inhibited. Therefore the colour of the hair/fur is black and the white stripes are a lack of colouration.

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3 thoughts on “Is the zebra black with white stripes or white with black stripes?

  1. What a fascinating article. It really turns the gut to see zebras, in London, pulling around rich people.

    Also, I had no idea that they are so hierarchical. And I’d heard of their bites and kicks, but hadn’t realized they were that vicious. I’ve been reading “The World Without Us,” which gets into the way that African ecosystems affects the behaviors of large herbivores, as opposed to the way that herbivores are in, say, North America. Curious to consider how this plays in here.

    I’m very pleased to have found your blog–I’ve learned so much in the last few days!

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