And the answer: zebra.
These uniquely striped equines can be collectively referred to as a "herd," a "crossing," a "cohort," a "zeal," or a "dazzle." The latter name isn’t due to their dazzling beauty, but rather their "motion dazzle" patterning. The term refers to the theory that when a group of zebras run together, their elaborate, high-contrast stripes can confuse predators.
Black with white stripes, or white with black stripes? According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, the answer is the former—the more you know!
There are three distinct species of zebra on the planet: the plains zebra, Grevy’s zebra, and the mountain zebra, all of which are native to Africa. The most common species is the plains zebra, which is the type you probably picture first when thinking of the striped equid. True to its name, the plains zebra roams grasslands and woodlands of eastern and southern Africa. Meanwhile, the endangered Grevy’s zebra is the largest of the bunch (at a whopping 1,000 pounds), and sticks to dry, semi-desert areas of Kenya and Ethiopia. The mountain zebra is most comfortable (you guessed it) in the mountains, and is the smallest of the three.
As for what the unique stripe patterns on zebras actually mean, well, the verdict is still out. Recent research has suggested that the stripes may simply help deter pesky horse flies, but popular theories have ranged from camouflage to throw off predators, to ways of signaling members of their species, to methods of regulating their temperature. Evolutionary purpose aside, though, each zebra has its own distinct pattern of stripes, much like a human’s completely unique fingerprint.
Did you know?
Yesterday was International Zebra Day! Although these amazing animals deserve a spotlight every day of the year, International Zebra Day was created to raise awareness for the environmental threats that zebras face, and to increase conservation efforts for these beautiful yet endangered animals. Learn more about International Zebra Day here.