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Why Are There So Few Blue Plants and Animals in Nature?

Blue hues in nature are rare due to the complex way light interacts with living tissues. Unlike other pigments, blue is often not a colorant but a structural color, resulting from light reflecting off microscopic surfaces. This intricate process is less common in the evolutionary toolkit. Intrigued by nature's palette? Discover how these exceptional blues paint our world.

>It might not be easy being green, according to Kermit the Frog, but it's nearly impossible to be blue in nature. Animal and plant life get their coloration from pigments that occur naturally, and Mother Nature is just not very fond of blue.

For plants, green chlorophyll is the most common pigment available in nature for their development, and since green reflects light rather than absorbing it, green is what we see when we look at most vegetation. Animals, on the other hand, often gain their pigments from the food they eat. For example, flamingos are pink because they typically feast on shrimp, which contain pink pigmentation. Try to think of a food that's blue and you'll be limited to a few choices, and it's pretty much only in fiction -- a girl visiting Willy Wonka's factory turns blue by eating blueberries -- that anyone or anything gets most of its pigment from a blue diet.

Being blue:

  • Modern police uniforms are blue because public servants in Ancient Rome wore blue outfits.

  • Surveys have found that women most commonly buy blue sweaters because they believe men prefer them – and in fact, blue is the most popular color choice among men.

  • Blue has been shown to help regulate breathing and heart rate, as well as induce a calm feeling.

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    • Fewer than 1 in 10 plants have blue flowers; very few animals are blue due to the difficulty of producing the hue.
      By: Ivonne Wierink
      Fewer than 1 in 10 plants have blue flowers; very few animals are blue due to the difficulty of producing the hue.