Steve Silber

“Stripes” 2009.

Video w/ voice over reciting below text:

In nature, every advantage increases the chances for survival.  Most species have developed some form of natural camouflage to help them avoid attack.  For most creatures “blending in” is the most effective approach.

To humans, a zebra’s stripes stick out like a sore thumb, so it’s hard to imagine how the stripes act as camouflage.  The zebra’s chief predator, the lion, however, is color blind.  Zebra’s Black and white coloration, therefore, does not play a role in their survival.  The striped pattern, however, is paramount. 

Zebras usually travel in large groups, in which they stay inseparably close to one another.  The all-important life protecting aspect of blending in occurs only when traveling in herds of like patterned creatures.  Positioned perpendicular with the body’s contours, they serve as visual disruptions.  In other words, and this is important, the stark uniform pattern seems to be a separate design superimposed on top of the animal self.  The pattern seems to run off in every direction, making it harder to get a clear sense of where the animal begins or ends. 

The intention of stripes through the scope of the lion being that a herd of zebras may look less like a number of individuals, and more like a big striped mass.  A herd of vertical stripes all seeming to run together, making it hard for a lion to even recognize which way the individual zebras are moving, making individual distinction completely disappear. 

In the wild, however, biologists have never observed a lion to appear confused by a zebra’s stripes.

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