Color illuminates everything in the universe. How many colors can humans see? A whopping 10 million! But all of those colors that we see aren’t what a bat, a dog, or a pigeon see. Different brains see different colors and, believe it or not, our color vision pales in comparison to that of birds, butterflies, reptiles, and fish.
Throughout history, and in most cultures, red was always the first color to be named, after black and white, Blue was one of the very last.
The Popular mnemonic ROY-G-BIV, which is meant to stand for the hues of the visible spectrum–red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet–is entirely arbitrary. Sir Isaac Newton originally named eleven colors in the spectrum and then whittled them down to seven because he wanted them to mirror the seven tones in the musical scale. Today, we no longer consider indigo an essential hue.
The plethora of color we see among plants and animals originated not as a means of attraction, but rather as a defense. Pigments, such as carotenoid and melanin, are natural protectors from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. It wasn’t until plants and animals begin to evolve that color began to play a key role in the propagation of species.
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