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Missing Stripes


(From the October 8 Science World.)

What do you get when you cross a zebra with a horse? It may sound like the start of a joke, but the offspring of these two species produces a zebroid, like this one named Eclyse who recently became a popular sight at a German safari park. Eclyse got her mixed up look because she inherited physical characteristics from both her zebra mom and horse dad.

Zebra stripes are a dominant trait, so zebroids are usually born with black stripes from head to hoof. But Eclyse was born with unusual stripe-free areas. That's because her father passed on a dominant trait of his own: white spots. Eclyse inherited his gene, or factor that controls for traits, for all-white patches. This overrode the gene for stripes.

Besides their stripes, zebroids also inherit their zebra parent's wild personality. So visitors to the safari park can admire Eclyse from afar, but they would't want to saddle her up for a ride.

—Ben Leach