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   Undertoad  Thursday Oct 6 11:26 AM

10/6/2005: Zebras



Magilla suggested this one out of a gallery of zebras, and I think it's a fine choice. Partly because it's such a great photo.

It really shows off why zebras have stripes at all. We think zebras look strange, but we look at them from our understanding of the world, and it turns out they are adapted to the lion's view of the world. From Howstuffworks:

Quote:
When all the zebras keep together as a big group, the pattern of each zebra's stripes blends in with the stripes of the zebras around it. This is confusing to the lion, who sees a large, moving, striped mass instead of many individual zebras. The lion has trouble picking out any one zebra, and so it doesn't have a very good plan of attack. It's hard for the lion to even recognize which way each zebra is moving: Imagine the difference in pursuing one animal and charging into an amorphous blob of animals moving every which way. The lion's inability to distinguish zebras also makes it more difficult for it to target and track weaker zebras in the herd.

So do zebra stripes confuse zebras as much as they confuse lions? Oddly enough, while making zebras indistinguishable to other animals, zebra stripes actually help zebras recognize one another. Stripe patterns are like zebra fingerprints: Every zebra has a slightly different arrangement. Zoologists believe this is how zebras distinguish who's who in a zebra herd.
So it's quite amazing, really! The zebra has developed two unique things: a pattern that confuses pattern recognition in lions, and a specific pattern recognition ability so they aren't as confused as the lion.

Human pattern recognition is very good - it's one of the things we are really known for - so we can tell that the above photo is different zebras, and not just one big mass of zebra-something. But try to count them.

Go ahead, try it, I'll wait.

No, really, how many zebras are in that picture?

OK. You counted the heads, and then you got confused in the bodies. That's your pattern recognition at work; because you are human, you're strongly biased towards finding differences in faces. You can recognize different people by tiny differences in their faces, and your brain is actually optimized for that task.

A zebra would look at that picture and say right away, oh sure, there are 11 zebras. A lion would look at it and say, I have no idea, it's a big pack, how annoying, the gazelle next door is easier.


Undertoad  Thursday Oct 6 11:29 AM

Ah yes, and one other point: Fridays are reserved for cute/cool animal pictures. That means the python/gator clash has to wait until tomorrow. I thank all of you who saw it and realized that it was the perfect IotD. It is, but the rules say it has to wait!



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Oct 6 12:02 PM

Great picture.
There is a number of outstanding pictures on that link.
IIRC one of our members owned Zebras...a member of a different stripe.



chrisinhouston  Thursday Oct 6 02:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
The zebra has developed two unique things: a pattern that confuses pattern recognition in lions, and a specific pattern recognition ability so they aren't as confused as the lion.
Wow, you mean the zebra evolved over time to be this way? I always thought that God just decided to make them like this...well maybe not God, maybe it was some other creator, but no one is really sure who that is.




barefoot serpent  Thursday Oct 6 02:17 PM

yup... I count 2



Trilby  Thursday Oct 6 02:34 PM

Most awesome pic! Is there a poster? There should be.

And thanks on waiting on the python v. 'gator. Florida. Who needs it?



Happy Monkey  Thursday Oct 6 02:54 PM

That looks like a good place for Man to die after disproving the existence of God and proving black is white.



capnhowdy  Thursday Oct 6 04:12 PM

Best IoTD in a while.
And thanks for the input, UT. It's a sorry ass that can't learn something here in the Cellar.
I'd hate to know I had to tell any TWO zebras apart. Looking at the image they are all nearly identical exept for the younger ones.
I wonder what they see when they look at a crowd of homosapien.
THERE IS SAFETY IN NUMBERS
If George Jefferson were a cellarite I wonder what his comment would be.......I always wanted to ride one.



papabell  Thursday Oct 6 05:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianna
...Is there a poster?...
or, better yet, a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle...


BigV  Thursday Oct 6 05:33 PM

Please, God, no.



Griff  Thursday Oct 6 05:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
A zebra would look at that picture and say right away, oh sure, there are 11 zebras.
Can I have a citation for this counting zebra of yours?


Katkeeper  Thursday Oct 6 05:48 PM

There is such a jigsaw puzzle. I own it. Not quite the same picture, but very similar. And yes, I have completed it.



Leah  Thursday Oct 6 06:47 PM

That makes me dizzy looking at them.



Undertoad  Thursday Oct 6 07:06 PM

Actually today is Thursday. The gator pic waits for Saturday.



Wombat  Thursday Oct 6 07:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
Actually today is Thursday. The gator pic waits for Saturday.
lmao! If it makes you feel any better, it's Friday here in Australia.


Leah  Thursday Oct 6 07:36 PM

Thanks Wombat, I didn't have the heart to tell them they are behind us here on OZ. (and not just in time zones )



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Oct 6 08:00 PM

By choice because you have a lovely butt.



Wombat  Thursday Oct 6 08:32 PM

Thanks mate!



Leah  Thursday Oct 6 08:38 PM

Thanks Bruce



Electrophile  Saturday Oct 8 06:56 AM

Lion tamers also take advantage of confusing lions with multiple, poorly definied targets. When a lion is presented with a four-legged chair it doesn't know which leg it should attack and so it gets confused. In the documentary "Fast, Cheap, and out of Control" they have a lion tamer talking about it. They also have a naked-mole-rat scientist, a robot scientist, and a topiary gardener talking about their own things.



Lizsun  Sunday Oct 9 08:46 AM

Zebra Counting

I found the two that make 11, but I'm still confused. Are they black stripes on white or white stripes on black? . . . and where does the red all over come in?

ME-Liz
http://lettingmebe.blogspot.com



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