Zebra Camouflage

To humans, a zebra’s stripes stick out like a sore thumb, so it’s hard to imagine that the stripes act as camouflage. Zoologists believe stripes offer zebras protection from predators in a couple of different ways.

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One way is as simple pattern-camouflage, much like the type the military uses in its fatigue design. The wavy lines of a zebra blend in with the wavy lines of the tall grass around it.

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It doesn’t matter that the zebra’s stripes are black and white and the lines of the grass are yellow, brown or green, because the zebra’s main predator, the lion, is colorblind.

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The pattern of the camouflage is much more important than its color, when hiding from these predators. If a zebra is standing still in matching surroundings, a lion may overlook it completely.

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To help illustrate this concept, we hid zebras in grass and with some imagination, set up scenarios where the lions couldn’t find them! Students enjoyed manipulating their toys in a variety of ways, creating new stories as they went!

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