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Animal Database
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Animal Database
Hippotigris
640px-Plains Zebra Equus quagga
Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Perissodactyla
Family Equidae
Genus Equus
Hippotigris

Hippotigris or zebras, is a subgenus of African equids united by their distinctive black and white stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

There are three species of zebras: the Plains zebra, the Grévy's zebra and the Mountain zebra. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, but Grévy's zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass, to which it is closely related, while the former two are more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus, along with other living equids.

The unique stripes of zebras make them one of the animals most familiar to people. They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, woodlands, thorny scrublands, mountains, and coastal hills. However, various anthropogenic factors have had a severe impact on zebra populations, in particular hunting for skins and habitat destruction. Grévy's zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered. While plains zebras are much more plentiful, one subspecies, the quagga, became extinct in the late 19th century – though there is currently a plan, called the Quagga Project, that aims to breed zebras that are phenotypically similar to the quagga in a process called breeding back.

Taxonomy and Evolution[]

  • See also: Horse Evolution.

Zebras evolved among the Old World horses within the last 4 million years. It has been suggested that zebras are polyphyletic and that striped equids evolved more than once. Extensive stripes are posited to have been of little use to equids that live in low densities in deserts (like asses and some horses) or ones that live in colder climates with shaggy coats and annual shading (like some horses). However, molecular evidence supports zebras as a monophyletic linage.

Classification[]

There are three extant species. Collectively, two of the species have eight subspecies (seven extant). Zebra populations are diverse, and the relationships between, and the taxonomic status of, several of the subspecies are not well known.

Genus: Equus
 Subgenus: Hippotigris
  Plains Zebra (Boddaert, 1785) (Equus quagga)
   †Quagga (Boddaert, 1785) (Equus quagga quagga)
   Burchell's Zebra (Gray, 1824) (Equus quagga burchellii)
   Grant's Zebra (Matschie, 1892) (Equus quagga boehmi)
   Maneless Zebra (Lönnberg, 1921) (Equus quagga borensis)
   Chapman's Zebra (Layard, 1865) (Equus quagga chapmani)
   Crawshay's Zebra (Equus quagga crawshayi)
  Mountain Zebra (Linnaeus, 1758) (Equus zebra)
   Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra)
   Hartmann's Mountain Zebra (Matschie, 1898) (Equus zebra hartmannae)
 Subgenus: Dolichohippus
  Grévy's Zebra (Oustalet, 1882) (Equus grevyi)
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