Individual zebras are easy to distinguish from each other by their striping patterns and it has been proposed that stripes are used in individual recognition or in facilitating social interactions through mutual grooming. Rates of mutual grooming between individual Katavi plains zebras are low however, and far less common than between unstriped domestic horses. Furthermore, most mutual grooming is directed at the rump with its thick stripes rather that thin stripes on some other parts of the body as one idea predicts. Individual recognition seems improbable given that unstriped domestic horses can recognize each other visually and by means of sound. Across equids, striping is not associated with living in large fluid groups where individuals meet up only infrequently and where recognition might be most needed. Stripes do not appear to be related to individual quality as there are no sex differences in striping, or associations with body size, fluctuating asymmetry or with wounding. There is therefore no support for the social hypothesis.
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