Nature is constantly surprising with the beautiful range of colors it provides. Modern-day people are constantly looking for ways to improve their own color, with everything from chemicals to tattoos. But before you jump onto the bandwagon and opt for a chemical dye or long-term tattoo, take some time to learn about the natural history of color!
This article will discuss how colors are created in nature, as well as show you pictures of naturally colorful animals found all around the world.
How are colors produced in nature?
Color, in all its wondrous forms, is the result of the scattering of light by matter. The color that an object appears to have is actually determined by its ability to absorb various frequencies of light while reflecting others. Different colors are created when different frequencies of light are absorbed, while others are reflected. The color that you see depends upon which frequencies are being absorbed and which ones are being reflected back.
Most things you encounter in your day-to-day life reflect or absorb in equal parts all the colors of sunlight. Your skin reflects red, green, and blue equally; your shirt reflects red and blue equally; your car reflects red, violet, and blue equally… In fact, everything reflects or absorbs all of the color frequencies equally.
But sometimes a material’s surface will have a different pattern. This difference in the surface causes a certain color to be reflected back while the other colors are absorbed. For example, a flower can produce colors by collecting sunlight and using it to synthesize pigments. What you see is what is reflected back towards your eyes.
Some other materials may absorb one color but reflect another. An example of this is the way that your skin absorbs red light and reflects blue light, while at the same time reflecting green and yellow. This means that your skin appears to be tinted red and blue!
This can also happen at a microscopic level with some materials. A nice example of this is the mantis shrimp, which not only has a reddish color but also has mantis patterning on its shell. The two distinct colors are produced by using different wavelengths of ultraviolet light to create very different colors of pigments.
Some other materials can produce different colors by absorbing certain frequencies while reflecting on others.