Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox every week.      
The Kid Should See This

Is this blue animal really blue?

This is the olivewing butterfly. It’s one of very few insect species on Earth known to have a true blue pigment. This is a blue poison dart frog, one of the only vertebrates known to contain blue pigment. No matter how you look at them, they’re blue. No matter how you look at them, they’re blue.

olivewing butterfly
poison dartfrog

All of the other animals only appear blue. You may perceive blue, but it’s because these animals have all evolved a way to trick your eyes using the physics of light to control what you see.

What’s happening when our eyes see structural colors like the blue of a peacock feather, a beatle’s elytra, or a blue morpho wing? And why is blue pigment so rare in nature? This Explorer clip from National Geographic summarizes the science behind what you’re really seeing when you see a blue animal.

Related listening from NPR: How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue.


Also: Pollia condensata.

Plus, watch related videos: Go inside an ice cave to see nature’s most beautiful blue, What Gives the Morpho Butterfly Its Magnificent Blue? And why is the sun yellow and the sky blue?

Plus: In Search of Forgotten Colours – Sachio Yoshioka and the Art of Natural Dyeing.

🌈 Related videos

Zoom into a Blue Morpho Butterfly

Rion Nakaya

Why Is Blue So Rare In Nature?

Rion Nakaya

Pygmy Seahorses: Masters of vibrantly-colored coral camouflage

Rion Nakaya

What Gives the Morpho Butterfly Its Magnificent Blue? – Deep Look

Rion Nakaya

Catching butterflies with the longest butterfly net in the world

Rion Nakaya

Invisible London: A near-infrared look at the British capital

Rion Nakaya

How (and Why) Do Chameleons Change Color? – Veritasium

Rion Nakaya

How Biomimicry is Inspiring Human Innovation

Rion Nakaya

Colorscope, an exploration of color across cultures

Rion Nakaya

Get 7 smart videos delivered every week.

 

Subscribe