Scientists claim to have solved the mystery of why zebras have their characteristic black and white stripes. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology showed that the striped pattern made the animals much less attractive to insects. Reportagem: Victoria Gill There have been many theories to explain the zebra's unmistakable stripes. Scientists have suggested that each zebra has a unique pattern that lets other animals recognise it. Or that the mass of black and white in a vast herd provides confusing camouflage that puts off predators. But this team set out to test exactly what effect the stripes had on a zebra's most irritating and ubiquitous enemy - the blood-sucking horsefly. As part of their experiment the team put sticky horse models - one white, one black and one zebra-striped - into a fly-infested field. When they collected the flies that had landed and stuck to each of the models, they found that the model zebra attracted by far the fewest flies. The researchers think that zebras had a black-coated ancestor, which evolved its white stripes in an evolutionary arms race, with an insect that's become the biting, disease-carrying scourge of most horse herds. unmistakable (algo que você não pode confundir com outra coisa, inconfundível) something you can't confuse with another thing camouflage (roupa ou um padrão idealizado para evitar que aquele que o usa possa ser visto, camuflagem) clothing or pattern designed to prevent the wearer from being seen predators (um animal que caça, predador) an animal that hunts irritating (irritante) annoying ubiquitous (encontrado por toda parte, ubíquoto) found everywhere horsefly (uma mosca grande que morde cavalos e outros animais) a large flying insect which bites horses and other animals fly-infested (cheio de moscas, infestado de moscas) filled with flies ancestor (um parente do passado, ancestral) a past relative of evolved (desenvolvido gradualmente a partir de, evoluído) developed gradually from scourge (algo que causa sofrimento) something that causes suffering BBC Brasil - Todos os direitos reservados. É proibido todo tipo de reprodução sem autorização por escrito da BBC.