A/C Units in the Serengeti…

In my “Wildlife Notes” posting of 9/30 I introduced you to some interesting facts about zebra stripes. I also suggested that you keep an eye open for my next posting which would include a fascinating fact about a zebra’s built-in air-conditioning system (Watch out Trane and Carrier).

Over the decades, there has been a lot of discussion and resulting theories as to why a zebra has stripes. Perhaps the most popular current theory pertains to “disruptive camouflage” which basically means that when a zebra herd is clustered together the mix of black and white stripes becomes somewhat of a blur making it difficult for a predator to separate the individuals and effectively select a target.

Recent experiments have shown that the skin in the area under the black stripes of a zebra has a significantly higher number of blood capillaries than the skin in the area under the white stripes.

We all know from those long-ago science classes that warm air rises and with the black stripes “attracting” heat and getting hotter than the white stripes, pressure above the black stripes is lower than the pressure above the white stripes. As a result there is a pressure gradient and resulting “wind” which “blows” from the white stripes to the black stripes creating a mini air cooling system. The capillaries in turn, carry this cooler blood through the rest of the body. Pretty neat!!

With zebras typically living in arid and semi-arid areas where there is little shade and accompanying hot temperatures, this theory makes a lot of sense to me.

The picture below shows a typical arid area in which zebras can be found.  With a black mat, this type of photo looks really good framed too. Take one when you’re on safari with ADS -with over 250,000 zebra in the Serengeti alone you’ll have lots of opportunity.

Zebras in arid sands

This picture gives a close up of zebra air conditioning.

The Serengeti's version of a Trane


One Response to A/C Units in the Serengeti…

  1. scott kasden says:

    Hey Lynn

    With predators seeing in monochrome, the stripes make targeting even more difficult.

    As another example, the cheetah sees in b&w, and can walk right past a baby Thompson without seeing it, when it lays still in the grass.

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