Category Archives: evolutionary theories

The Animal Kingdom Uses Color to Survive

Humans have it easy compared to other species in the animal kingdom. We reign at the top of the food chain and do not fear becoming another animal’s lunch. However, survival is a real concern for other mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and fish.

Nevertheless, today the animal kingdom is alive and well because different species have developed non-aggressive defense techniques. For instance, throughout the process of evolution, several animals have changed colors to better blend into their surroundings. Beyond protection, animals also use color to attract mates, and, in effect, prolong the existence of their species.

When we think of color-changing animals, chameleons quickly come to mind, but do you know that flamingos, robins, and snakes are said to have developed their colors somewhat deliberately, too?

For instance, baby flamingos are gray while adults are pink because the flamingo diet includes foods filled with carotenoids, which contain natural color pigments. Some of these foods include shrimp, crabs and algae.

Humans can realize this color changing sensation to some degree. Have you heard of a person’s skin or eyes turning orange after eating a lot of carrots? “Carotenoids,” advises an NPR article “are abundant in plants, where they play a role in photosynthesis. Different carotenoids make carrots orange and beets red….”

Diets rich with carotenoids shine a new light on the familiar phrase you are what you eat. However, the same article points out that “Animals… have a lot of… color limitations.” An Ornithologist from Yale, Rick Prum, points out that birds with mostly brown and gray coloring can develop yellow and red tints if they eat certain foods but they will not have the same luck if they want to turn blue or green.  In fact, Prum says, “Blue is fascinating because the vast majority of animals are incapable of making it with pigments.” Nevertheless, several species appear blue.

Since pigment-rich diets rarely produce this color, how can animals like beetles and butterflies appear blue?

The answer is simple: several blue animals employ optical illusions. A biologist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Dan Babbitt, uses morpho butterflies to explain this phenomenon.

The butterflies have a 6-inch wingspan — one side a dull brown and the other a vibrant, reflective blue. The butterflies have tiny transparent structures on the surface of their wings that bounce light in just the right way to make them appear a vibrant blue that’s so bright it almost hurts your eyes. But if you grind up the wings, the dust — robbed of its reflective prism structures — would just look gray or brown.

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Many animals have centuries of diet and optical illusions to thank for their survival. By eating high carotenoid diets or employing strategies of design, animals have developed colors that allow them to protect themselves from attackers, as well as attract mates.

Even though humans have it easy, sitting at the top of the food chain, it doesn’t mean we know it all. In fact, we learn a lot from observing animals who know how to survive and thrive and adjust to their surroundings.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

Coral Reefs: Rainforests of the Sea

Communicating with Color in the Animal Kingdom

An Art Project For Human Kind

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Do Men and Women See Colors Differently?

Do Men and Women See Colors Differently

Have you ever wondered if men and women have visual differences? After all, we don’t always see eye to eye.

Now you can put curiosity to rest; one study shows people of opposing genders disagree on hues. This means men and women experience different color perspectives.

Nevertheless, with new information comes new questions like, why? What causes this inconsistency?

How do Men and Women See Colors Differently?

Men and women rarely see the same color hues. It is common for males to require a longer wavelength than females in order to experience similar shades of certain colors.

Warmer colors have longer wavelengths than cooler colors. This means that reds and oranges are likely to appear bolder and stronger to men. Women, on the other hand, tend to see vibrant green hues with clarity and precision.

Males are also known to be better at identifying colorful detail from a distance, while women excel at this when colors are closer. In general, men are more sensitive to colors too. Yet, women have the ability to easily differentiate between slight changes in color.

What Causes Visual Differences in Men and Women?

Realizing men and women have different visual perspectives is interesting, but learning why opposite genders experience colors in unique ways is enlightening. To uncover this mystery, it is necessary to consult evolutionary theories. Let’s return to a time when men and women were known as “hunters and gathers.”

In addition to identifying details from a distance, males have keen senses for detecting fast moving objects and flashing lights. Ultimately, requiring longer wavelengths that exist in warmer colors also increases man’s attention to “fine detail and rapidly moving stimuli.” All the while, females excel at distinguishing colors close at hand. This implies men are naturally good at hunting, and women are purposed for gathering objects like nuts and berries.

Do Men and Women See Colors Differently 1This research does not prove that one gender sees color better than the other. Rather, men and women have different visual strengths that were, at one time, used in tandem to provide sustenance for themselves and their communities.

Citing a number of tests and color experiments, this study reveals how men and women see the world in unique ways.

Explore more about this subject, and keep the information in mind next time you’re decorating.

Read more Segmation blog posts about Color Perspectives:

Light Creates Space, Color, Perception and Art

Perspectives on Color

Color Can Help You Understand Personality Types

Image made available by charles van L. on Flickr through Creative Common Licenses.

Image made available by Beshef on Flickr through Creative Common Licenses.

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