Why rabbits have white tails

Daniel Cressey, reporting for Nature News Blog: 

Dirk Semmann, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, thinks he has the answer to this puzzle — and the evidence to back it up. Other theories hold that rump patches are warning to other animals, are sexually selected, or serve to show a predator that they have been spotted.

Semmann’s research suggests that these spots actually confuse predators because of their very noticeable nature. By focusing on the bright spot, the would-be predator ignores the larger body of the animal. Then, when the rabbit executes a sharp turn, the spot disappears and the predator has to readjust to focus on the camouflaged coat, losing vital seconds.