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Surprising Science

Zebra’s Stripes

Researchers have discovered a clue to how different creatures in the animal kingdom create the colorful and patterned body ornamentations that mark their species.

Researchers have discovered a clue to how different creatures in the animal kingdom create the complex body ornamentation and patterns that mark their species. The study is the first to find evidence for what generates animal color patterns — be they colorful stripes and spots to attract mates, or designs made to provide camouflage from predators. On experiments with drosophila flies, the scientists found “a color-inducing morphogen, a diffusible protein that tells certain cells to make pigment.”


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