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The Zebra's Stripes, A Personal No-Fly Zone

Originally published on February 11, 2012 9:46 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Pinpointing the age of a mosquito is a labor of love for some. It might just equal the decades-long debate that scientists have had over just how the zebra got its stripes. Now finally, the hard work of researchers in Hungary and Sweden has paid off.

It turns out that the distinctive pattern of the animal's coat evolved specifically to keep away Africa's blood sucking flies. I don't mean to insult them. That's how they eat. The hungry bugs just aren't attracted to the sequence of polarized and unpolarized light that reflects off the zebra's black and white stripes. That's bad news for horses, though. Apparently their monotone dark hair is just what the ravenous flies are looking for.

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