Do Animals Get Sunburns?

iStock
iStock

After a long, snowy winter, it’s hard to resist the allure of warm summer days. Of course, they can come at a cost—including a sunburn. While it’s a well-known advisory for humans to slather on that SPF before taking in the rays, what about animals?

“Animals can get sunburn, just as people do, from too much sun exposure,” Paul Calle, chief veterinarian at the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Bronx, told The New York Times.

However, the Sun affects different creatures in different ways. “Wild animals are marvelously adapted to their environment, so those in areas with lots of sunlight usually have scales, feathers, or fur to protect them,” Calle continued. “They also retreat to burrows, shady areas or water; wallow in water or mud; or spray dust or water on themselves when the Sun is at its peak.”

So which animals are more susceptible to sunburn? According to Tony Barthel, curator of the Elephant House and the Cheetah Conservation Station at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, elephants, rhinos, and freshly shorn sheep are especially at risk. Studies also found evidence of sun damage in the cells of blue whales, fin whales, and sperm whales.

However, some creatures are equipped to protect themselves. For instance, the first eight or nine inches of a giraffe’s tongue is black and the rest is pink. “Some people theorize that giraffes have black tongues because they are out of their mouths a lot, and they don’t want to get sunburned on their tongues,” Barthel told Smithsonian.

Additionally, hippos “excrete a pinkish liquid that wells up in droplets on their faces or behind their ears or necks.” This substance is found to absorb UV light and prevent bacterial growth.

Snakes and reptiles can thank their scales for providing a little extra protection; not only do their scales protect them from UV rays, but they also help retain moisture. 

When biology doesn’t cover it, some animals have developed their own tricks. According to Calle, some creatures instinctively protect themselves. Elephants throw sand on themselves in an effort to avoid sunburn. (And pesky bugs, of course!) It’s a learned behavior, as adults throw sand on their young.

“That is probably part of the teaching process,” Barthel says. “Not only are they taking care of their youngsters, but they are showing them that they need to do that.”

If you’re looking to protect a pet from potentially harmful UV rays, How Stuff Works recommends dog sunscreen, which can be found at pet stores. Horse and Hound even says children’s sunscreen works for horses!

However, Calle notes that “for people and animals, avoiding excess exposure to high-intensity sunlight is the best prevention.”

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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Why Are Common Graves Called Potter’s Fields?

Graves in potter's fields are sometimes marked with blank headstones or crosses.
Graves in potter's fields are sometimes marked with blank headstones or crosses.
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For centuries, regions around the world have maintained common graves called potter’s fields, where they bury unidentified victims and impoverished citizens who couldn’t afford their own cemetery plots. The term potter’s field has been around for just as long.

The earliest known reference to a potter’s field is from the Gospel of Matthew, which historians believe was written sometime during the 1st century. In it, a remorseful Judas gives the 30 silver coins he was paid for betraying Jesus back to the high priests, who use it to purchase a “potter’s field” where they can bury foreigners. It’s been speculated that the priests chose land from a potter either because it had already been stripped of clay and couldn’t be used for farming, or because its existing holes and ditches made it a particularly good place for graves. But Matthew doesn’t go into detail, and as the Grammarphobia Blog points out, there’s no evidence to prove that the original potter’s field was ever actually used for its clay resources—it could’ve just been a parcel of land owned by a potter.

Whatever the case, the term eventually caught on as English-language versions of the Bible made their way across the globe. In 1382, John Wycliffe translated it from Latin to Middle English, using the phrase “a feeld of a potter,” and William Tyndale’s 1526 Greek-to-English translation of the passage featured “a potters felde,” which was altered slightly to “potters field” in King James’s 1611 edition.

Around the same time, a new definition of potter was gaining popularity that had nothing to do with pottery—in the 16th century, people began using the word as a synonym for tramp or vagrant. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was first written in a 1525 Robin Hood tale, and William Wordsworth mentioned it in his 1798 poem “The Female Vagrant.” It’s likely that this sense of the word helped reinforce the idea that a potter’s field was intended for the graves of the unknown.

It’s also definitely not the only phrase we’ve borrowed from the Bible. From at your wit’s end to a fly in the ointment, here are 18 everyday expressions with holy origins.

[h/t Grammarphobia Blog]