The origin of natural sunblock
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Sleep-deprived engineers and designers have dark circles under their eyes. The size and darkness of the dark circle depends on the amount of sleep, skin aging, UV exposure, as well as heredity. There has been an interesting theory regarding dark circles under our eyes having a special role in block UV radiation and protecting our eyes. Sorry to say, this theory has not yet been verified.
However, the beaks of penguins do! They have a special ability to reduce the UV exposure. The beaks of king and emperor penguins can reflect UV light. Penguins, actually, do not reflect the sun’s UV rays to protect their skins and/or eyes. Ecologically, this trait was obtained to gain an advantage in the sexual competence.
Dresp and his colleagues emphasize the role of the penguins’ beaks is to provide colourful flamboyance to increase their sexual competences. Like penguins, most of birds send signals to the mate using the ‘near UV spectrum’. The sexual attraction may be vary according to how much UV is reflected (Dresp, Jouventin & Langley, 2005). “UV reflectance in addition to the colour of songbird feathers has been recognized as an important signal when choosing a mate”.
In nature, there are numerous ideas waiting to be applied to our world, even if the fundamental goals are so different. How cool is inventing a groundbreaking sunblock for humans by understanding the mechanism of UV reflectance of penguins’ beaks?
Dresp, B., Jouventin, P., & Langley, K. (2005). Ultraviolet reflecting photonic microstructures in the King Penguin beak. Biology letters, 1(3), 310-313.