I'm in the process of designing a more functional "hood" to block UV / sun exposure and also provide shelter from rain. I believe that the best gear and products are developed by "looking to nature" for inspiration. Therefore, what solutions exist in nature to reduce the amount of UV / sun exposure or provide shelter from rain?

I am specifically (though not exclusively) interested in mimicking any hood-like features that animals exhibit, or any natural means of blocking the UV rays/sun such as the way trees in the rain forest create a natural canopy (perhaps less obvious examples will generate more inspiration). Are there are any other means of reducing UV/sun exposure or offering shelter from the rain?

Hoping to gain some inspiration here.



1 Answer 1


Protecting against UV is usually done with a covering like fur, feathers, scales, a hard shell, etc, or pigment.

Our own species is a great example of the latter. It seems we emerged on the plains of central Africa where UV exposure is a serious issue. The first humans most likely had dark skin, as humans still do that stayed in that area. Those that migrated north encountered a different tradeoff where UV exposure was less of a threat and being able to make vitamin D from sunlight more of a advantage. As a result, those with a long ancestry in more polar regions evolved light-colored skin. As people migrated to different places, the lightness/darkness of the skin evolved to suit the local conditions.

Sunscreen is something light-colored people can use to temporarily attenuate UV. Unlike the natural melanin, it doesn't also attenuate visible light, so doesn't appear dark.

  • 2
    Interestingly, our Chimp and Bonobo cousins have light complexions. Their full-body hair covering precludes dark skin evolutionarily. We evolved a dark complexion because we lost our hair, and we lost our hair because we were running across the plains chasing prey. Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 13:34
  • 1
    @Jon: We probably evolved dark skin to address the problem caused by loss of hair. However, there is still much debate about why we lost the hair. Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 14:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.