Wouldn’t it be convenient if we didn’t have to worry about sunscreen because our bodies were able to simply produce it when we needed it? This video from Scishow explores the history of the so-called ‘sunscreen gene,’ which some animals carry. Unsurprisingly, these types of genes tend to appear in the genomes of animals that spend a lot of time in direct sunlight, like reptiles, birds, and fish.
These protective genes work by producing a chemical that can absorb the UV rays, instead of trying to deflect them, like our sunscreens do. It was once thought that microbes were responsible for generating those UV-deflecting chemicals, but now it has been suggested that the genes responsible for creating them were transferred from algae into other organisms.