Hippo Sweat: Nature's Most Powerful Sunscreen
Hippos lounge all day in the sun without getting sunburned. Being the largest land animals after elephants, these water horses don’t do much else except eat at night — they can’t even swim.
One thing these dangerous animals do excel at is protecting their bodies. A thick and oily, red substance known as blood sweat is secreted on their skin.
Researchers from California hope to create a product inspired by hippo sweat. This not-yet-invented product will possibly perform four protections in one:
- sunscreen (absorbs rather than reflects ultraviolet (UV) radiation)
- sunblock (protects your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB radiation)
- antiseptic (agent that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms on the external surfaces of the body)
- insect repellent (contains DEET that masks our release of carbon dioxide which makes us harder to detect by biting insects)
These researchers specialize in biomicicry, or learning lessons from nature that can be applied to man-made products and materials.
Despite this excellent protection and though hippos are not an endangered species, they are in peril. The huge animals are now only common in East Africa. Their soft, ivory tusks are valued, and some people even eat their meat. Also, other experts recently reported that eating hippopotamuses may have allowed the early human brain to grow.