Are Zebras Black with White Stripes or White with Black Stripes?


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This question has been thought about by many people for ages. It's been debated about, but science proves the answer.

According to howstuffworks.com, "Genetics determine the variety of stripes in zebras. While the specific processing of determining this striping pattern isn't known, it has something to do with selective pigmentation." Lisa Smith, Curator of Large Mammals at Zoo Atlanta, reported that the coat of the zebra is simply black with white stripes because of the result of the pigment activation (the black color) and inhibition (the white color). This makes sense because when you have a lot of pigment in your skin, you get darker, and when you have a lack of pigment, you have more fair skin. According to webmd.com, pigment is "any coloring matter, such as that in the red blood cells, hair, or iris, or in the stains used in histologic or bacteriologic work, or that in paint." Also, if a zebra is shaved, its skin under the fur is actually dark. As for a zebra, this means that its fur is actually black and the white areas are simply the areas that lack pigment due to the genetic makeup. I guess I'll wonder whether zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes again.

1 Comment

This was a very clever idea for a blog topic because I feel this is one of those "Did the chicken or the egg come first?" ideas. I'm sure lots of research has been done on whether zebras are actually black with white stripes or white with black stripes. However, with your research, we came to the conclusion that because of the pigmentation, they are black with white stripes. This website even includes a video about Zebras.

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