Hippo Sunscreens

One of the interesting things we see in the animal world is how many times an animal will have a special protection against a special environmental problem. Japanese researchers have discovered that the hippopotamus has a special protection from sunburn.

Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet radiation and an animal like the hippopotamus with no hair and no easy way to get under something to get out of the sun is especially vulnerable. Hippos have large glands that emit a solution through holes in the skin. When the researchers analyzed the solution they found it absorbs ultraviolet light providing great protection for the hippo.

The solution has been named hipposudoric acid, and further analysis of it reveals it is also an effective antibiotic. Chemists have had a hard time synthesizing a compound that is stable enough to be an effective sunscreen, but the hippo's body produces this compound and it is highly stable and efficient.

All of life declares the wisdom and planning of the Creator.

--Reference: Science News, May 29, 2004, page 341.

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