New discovery: Wildlife sunscreen

How species protect themselves from sunburn and help us develop new sunscreens. 

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Hippo
Hippos ‘sweat’ a reddish antibiotic sunscreen.

 

A compound first discovered in fish eggs might lead to the development of novel sunscreens, according to new research.

Gadusol protects cells by filtering ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Fish were thought to obtain it from their diets, but it turns out that not only can they manufacture it themselves, but so too can amphibians, reptiles and birds.

Mammals, though, cannot – the evolution of fur may have rendered it obsolete. So the most famous user of natural sunscreen, the hippopotamus, has had to come up with different compounds. The researchers have also managed to produce gadusol artificially, raising the possibility of using it in a prophylactic sunburn pill.

Source: eLife 

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