There are many animals that are black and white, such as pandas and zebras.
The black and white pattern can be stripes, spots, patterns, or ‘block’ areas.
There are several theories why animals are black and white, such as that black and white is aposematic, countershading, or cryptically-coloured.
Aposematic: Aposematic means ‘away sign’ or ‘away signal’ – the colour is a warning to predators to go away. Other colours can be aposematic too, not just black and white. Aposematic signals warn other animals not to attack it, or to signal that the animal is poisonous to eat. The animal might not actually be poisonous, but it wants other animals to think that it is.
Countershading: Countershading means ‘against or opposite shades’ – usually where an animal has half or part of its body in one colour (such as black) and half or part of its body in the opposite colour (such as white). Countershading of light and dark colours is a form of camouflage to keep animals safe from predators.
Cryptically-coloured: Cryptic means ‘mysterious’ or ‘puzzling’ and cryptically-coloured can mean ‘indirect’ colour. Cryptically-coloured patterns on animals are used as camouflage or to confuse a predator.
Attention-seeking: Black and white may be used to attract a mate, resulting in reproduction and survival of the species.
Another reason that scientists think that many animals are black and white is that some predators cannot see colour, so animals that are black and white have good chance of blending into the environment, making it difficult for predators to see them.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM