Why Skunks Have Stripes: To Point to Fierce Anal Glands?
Mammals' color patterns can communicate whether they spray or bite.
A new analysis of data on and pictures of nearly 200 carnivorous mammals—including skunks, badgers, and wolverines—shows that fierce fighters tend to be more boldly colored than more peaceable animals, which tend to use camouflage to stay safe.
And those colorations depend on the animals' methods of defense.
Creatures such as skunks, which have long stripes down their body, "tend to be really good at spraying their anal gland secretions—not just dribbling them out," said study leader Ted Stankowich, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Skunks are known to eject their offensive musk as far as about ten feet (three meters).
Other "species that are pretty good at