51 Fun Color Facts That Will Surprise and Amaze You

Fun facts about color illustration

Color surrounds us every day. And because it’s so integrated into our lives, it’s easy to take the lively reds, cool blues, and verdant greens for granted. But as you’ll see in a moment, there’s a lot more to color than meets the eye.

Here are 51 fun color facts that will give you a whole new appreciation for one of the world’s most incredible features – prepare to be surprised and amazed!

1. Warm Colors Seem Closer to You Than Cool Colors

A collection of four bright gradient color palettes

Even if they’re painted on the exact same surface, warm colors tend to look closer to us than cool colors do.

If you have interior design experience, you may have heard the familiar piece of advice — if you need to make a room look bigger, paint it in a cool color. By the same token, if you have a large room and need to make it look cozier, try painting it in a warm color.

2. Purple Dye Was Once a Rare, Expensive Luxury

Bolinus brandaris or the purple dye murex, the type of snail used to make the ancient dye called Tyrian purple

Why is there a picture of a shellfish under an entry about the color purple? That’s because Tyrian purple, the world’s first purple dye, was made from Murex sea snails like the one in the picture. Historians believe that the dye was first made by the Phoenicians as early as 1200 BC.

It took tens of thousands of sea snails to make even a small amount of Tyrian purple. As a result, the dye was extraordinarily expensive and only worn by the upper classes.

The name “Tyrian” comes from the city of Tyre. Although Tyre is in present-day Lebanon, it was one of the first major cities in Phoenicia.

3. There’s a Reason Skunks Are Black and White

A picture of Mephitis mephitis, better known as the striped skunk

Plenty of animals have coloration that helps them blend into their surroundings, but the distinctive black-and-white coloration of skunks certainly makes them stand out! Their stripes warn predators of their ability to spray an extremely foul-smelling secretion from their anal glands.

Not all predators understand the warning at first. But if an animal is unfortunate enough to be sprayed by a skunk, it will usually avoid any animal with similar coloration in the future!

4. Men and Women Perceive Color Differently

A close-up image of a grayish, multicolored eye

The colors of the objects around you might seem absolute. But did you know that the same exact shade can look different to men than it does to women? Research has indicated that women tend to be able to detect subtle differences in shades that men don’t notice.

In one particular study, researchers asked participants to look at a specific color and determine the percentage of red, green, yellow, and blue that it contained. Women were more adept when it came to spotting subtle gradations, especially toward the middle of the color spectrum.

5. Blue Light Has Lots of Energy

Illustration of the spectrum of visible light and which colors correspond to which wavelengths

Scientists measure the wavelengths of light in nanometers (as shown in the above graphic). The shorter the wavelength, the more energy the light carries. Because blue light has a much shorter wavelength than red light, it’s more energetic.

That’s part of the reason the sky is blue — smaller wavelengths can be scattered more easily. Gas molecules and other atmospheric particles tend to scatter more blue light than other wavelengths, so as a result, the sky appears to be blue.

6. Certain Colors Cause Physiological Changes

A picture of a completely red room with one large window

You probably already know that different colors can impact our feelings. But did you know that they also can cause physiological changes?

As it turns out, warm colors aren’t warm in name only — red, yellow, and orange can sometimes raise your body temperature. Red also can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. That’s why many people will become stressed or agitated if they stay in an all-red room for an extended period of time.

7. Not All Animals Have Red Blood

A horseshoe crab swims in shallow ocean water in the wild

What color is blood? In humans and most other animals, the hemoglobin in blood makes it red. But in animals who don’t rely on hemoglobin for oxygen transport, blood is a different color entirely.

Horseshoe crabs (like the one in the picture) are a great example. Their blood uses hemocyanin, a different protein, to bind oxygen to blood. As a result, their blood looks blue. Some species of worms have a binding protein called hemerythrin that makes their blood appear purple!

8. Color Works Differently Onscreen and In Print

An illustration of the RGB and CMYK color models

Have you seen the acronyms RGB, CMYK, PMS, and HEX? If you work in design, you may already know that RGB (red, green, blue) and HEX (hexadecimal color) are systems used for rendering colors onscreen. PMS (Pantone Matching System) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) are used for printing.

So what sets onscreen and printed colors apart? Onscreen color systems are additive. That means that the color space starts with black. As you add more color, you get white. This follows the way light creates color: when there’s no light, you see black, and when you see the whole spectrum of light, you get white.

Printed colors are subtractive. That means that the space starts with white. As you add pigments, you get color. Once all pigments have been added, you see black.

9. Pantone Has Named a Color of the Year Since 1999

Close-up of Pantone book of different color swatches

If you don’t routinely work with color, you might not already know that Pantone bestows the honor of Color of the Year on one special shade (sometimes two) each year.

This color standardization system began the Pantone Color of the Year program in 1999. The goal was to underscore the connection between culture and color and to connect designers and color enthusiasts around the world.

10. Many Ancient Languages Didn’t Have a Word for the Color Blue

Abstract image of a blue question mark sitting on a pile of other question marks

Color has existed for millions of years, so naturally, developing civilizations created words for different colors. But curiously enough, many ancient civilizations did not have a word for blue.

Why? One theory is that because blue dye is so hard to make, most civilizations used color palettes that didn’t include it. As a result, there wasn’t a pressing need to have a name for blue. That theory seems to be supported by ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians were one of the few early civilizations to make blue pigment, and they had a word for blue.

Some experts believe that the language of color evolves with necessity. Civilizations seem to start with words for light and dark. Next come words for red, yellow, and green. Because blue doesn’t occur especially often in nature, words for blue tend to appear later.

11. Colors Mean Different Things Around the World

Two people wearing ornate, traditional Chinese wedding attire

In some cases, colors seem to have universal meaning around the world. But at other times, the same color can have different — and even contradictory — meanings. For example, in much of the Western world, yellow is a color of happiness. But in some cultures in Latin America, it’s considered to be a color of mourning.

Similarly, many cultures closely associate the color white with weddings. But in Chinese tradition, red is used for wedding dresses because it’s symbolic of joy and prosperity.

12. Isaac Newton Invented the Color Wheel in the 1600s

A rendition of the color wheel as a continuous spectrum

Sir Isaac Newton is known for developing calculus and the theory of gravity. But did you know he’s also credited with creating an early version of the color wheel?

Newton worked extensively with white light, and he observed that when that light was bent through a prism, the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet appeared. He arranged these colors into a wheel. Newton’s initial color wheel also correlated music notes with the visible spectrum of light.

13. The Color Wheel is a Valuable Design Tool

Poster-style illustration of various types of color harmonies

The color wheel is more than just a pretty illustration. If you work with color, it’s also a great tool for developing pleasing color schemes. These are sometimes called “color harmonies.”

Just like musical notes, some colors tend to work especially nicely together — Newton was on to something with his color/music note correlations! Even if you don’t have much familiarity with color theory, you probably know about one basic color harmony: complementary colors. These are colors that are directly across from one another on the color wheel. Complementary colors contrast sharply, so they’re perfect for creating designs that pop.

14. The World’s “Blackest Black” Can Make 3D Surfaces Look Flat

Striking abstract image of snowy mountains and a frozen lake with a Vantablack monolith

In 2014, a company called Surrey Nanosystems developed an impossibly dark pigment called Vantablack. The “Vanta” in the name stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array Black. The pigment itself is made from a complex matrix of nanotubes that absorb almost all light. As a result, even 3D objects coated with Vantablack will appear flat.

Surrey Nanosystems teamed up with BMW to create the first Vantablack car, a BMW X6. While the car is striking, it won’t be entering the general market. Vantablack coatings are prohibitively expensive, and their light-absorbing properties would likely create a safety issue on the road.

15. Blue Is the World’s Most Popular Favorite Color

Seven blue glass cat's eye marbles on a deep brown background

What’s your favorite color? Maybe you like red because it’s the color of ripe strawberries. Or maybe you prefer green because it reminds you of rolling hills in spring.

For many people, positive experiences shape their color preferences. That might be why blue is the world’s most popular favorite color. Even though blue plants and animals aren’t especially common, the world’s skies and oceans are blue. That association, even if it’s subconscious, draws people to the tranquil shade.

16. “Orange” Used to Be Called “Geoluhread”

Close-up photo of oranges growing in a tree

Which came first: orange the color or orange the fruit? You might be surprised to hear that the color was actually named after the fruit.

Before oranges were widespread throughout Europe, there really wasn’t a specific color name for orange. The English word for “orange” was “geoluhread,” meaning “yellow-red.” Once Europeans became acquainted with the sweet, bright citrus fruit, “geoluhread” became “orange.”

17. The Color of a Dish Can Influence the Flavor of Food

A collection of colorful dishes against a wooden background

Our senses work together in ways we don’t always realize. And as one group of researchers discovered, the color of a dish (or in their case, a cup) can actually influence how we perceive the taste.

Their study, which was published in Journal of Sensory Studies, asked participants to sample four cups of hot chocolate: a white cup, a creme-colored cup, an orange cup, and a red cup. The catch? Each cup contained the exact same type of hot chocolate! Participants consistently rated the hot chocolate in the orange and creme-colored cups as being better than the others.

18. You Can Temporarily See Colors That Don’t Actually Exist

The word "imaginary" in multicolored neon lights on a black background

“Impossible colors” are colors that humans can’t ordinarily see. But if you want to experience them yourself, you can! Chimerical colors are one type of impossible color that you can see if you (1) stare at a color until your cone cells fatigue and (2) then look at a completely different shade.

This demo template lets you see three chimerical colors: Stygian blue (a shade that is black and deep blue at the same time), self-luminous red (a color that appears to be both red and brighter than white), and hyperbolic orange (a shade of orange that is more than 100% saturated).

19. We’re Still Learning About the Coloring of Prehistoric Animals

An artist's rendering of how dinosaurs might have looked in the wild

Most modern-day illustrations of dinosaurs depict them as being earthy shades of green, gray, and brown, much like many of today’s reptiles. But do we really know what color dinosaurs were? The emerging field of paleocolor aims to find out.

In some fossils, scientists can examine the structure of melanin to see if an animal produced black or reddish pigments. Of course, this process can’t reveal every color to us, but it does offer fascinating insight into the colors and patterns of these prehistoric creatures.

20. Some Shades of Pink Can Calm Aggression

Image of light pink clouds in a light pink sky

Pink is soft, pretty, and delicate. But did you know it can also calm you down? In the 1960s, Alexander Schauss found that one particular shade of pink had a distinctly soothing influence on him. If he stared at it immediately after exercise, he noticed that his heart rate and rate of respiration both slowed. Other colors didn’t have the same effect.

But Schauss needed to see whether this shade of pink affected other people in the same way. He convinced the directors of Seattle’s Naval Correctional Facility to paint some of the cells pink and found that the color reduced hostile and erratic behavior. He named the color Baker-Miller Pink after the facility’s two directors.

21. Iron Oxide Is What Makes Mars Red

An image of the red planet Mars floating in black space

We call Mars the “red planet.” But have you ever stopped to wonder what makes it red? Its soil is rich in iron minerals. When those minerals are exposed to air, they form a reddish compound called iron oxide. Iron oxide is exceedingly common on Earth, too — you see it every time you look at rust!

Mars is also dry, windy, and dusty, so many of these oxidized particles are afloat in its atmosphere as well. As a result, both its surface and its atmosphere tend to look red.

22. Some People See More Colors Than Others

A blurry image of multicolored lights at night

Scientists estimate that the average person can see about one million distinct colors. However, those with tetrachromacy can see about 100 million. Tetrachromats have four types of cone cells (color receptors) in their eyes. Most people only have three.

Tetrachromacy is rare — scientists believe that only about 1% of the world’s population has it. For those who work with color, this condition can be a gift. If you have an additional cone cell, you can detect subtle differences between shades that most people can’t. In some cases, the color of the world around you might seem more saturated than it does to someone who only has three cone cells.

23. There’s a Reason Paint Colors Have Cool Names

A page in a book of different colors and their names

Half the fun of choosing a paint color for your walls is reading the creative color names. But those names aren’t merely there for entertainment — there’s a good bit of research indicating that customers tend to prefer products with interesting color names.

One study called “A rose by any other name…” asked participants to rate products with different color names. The researchers found that an interesting name could influence a customer’s perception of a given color. For example, most customers liked “mocha” products but disliked “brown” ones — even though mocha and brown were the exact same shade!

24. Yellow Can Cause Dizziness and Nausea

A bright yellow backdrop with a slight color gradient

Have you ever noticed that you don’t see yellow signage inside of airplanes? There’s a reason for that.

The color yellow can cause nausea and dizziness in some people. Air travel can make some people dizzy or nauseated as-is, so airline companies are careful to not make things worse.

25. Colorblind People Tend to Have Better Night Vision

A night-vision style image of homes in the countryside

Being colorblind might seem like a disadvantage. However, many colorblind people have better night vision than people who see colors normally.

Some scientists think this might be because the interaction between cone cells (color receptors) and rod cells (light/dark receptors) may be different in those who are colorblind. Others think that the missing cone cells in colorblind people may have been replaced by rod cells.

26. Cheddar Cheese Is (Usually) Orange Because of Dye

A collection of blocks and cubes of cheddar cheese on a wooden cutting board

Not all cheddar cheese is orange, but a good portion of it is. But you might be surprised to hear that cheddar cheese isn’t (usually) naturally orange.

The tradition of orange cheddar cheese began in England. If cows ate a healthy, beta-carotene-rich diet of natural grass, the beta-carotene gave their milk an orangish tint. As a result, the cheese made from that milk looked orange. Cheese from grass-fed cows was of higher quality, so orange cheese was a sign of excellence. Farmers who made cheese of lesser quality would sometimes dye their milk a yellow-orange color to mimic the look of cheese from grass-fed cows.

Wisconsin cheese farmers in the US began dyeing their cheese for another reason: consistency. In the warmer months, cows primarily ate grass. But in the winter, their diet was mostly hay. Hay doesn’t have as much beta carotene as fresh grass. As a result, winter cheese was much whiter than summer cheese. By dyeing all of their cheddar a shade of orange, the farmers were able to make sure that their product remained consistent across the seasons.

27. White Is the Safest Car Color

An image of a white car driving past green fields

You might think that the safest color for a car would be red or another attention-grabbing shade. However, research has continually indicated that white is actually the safest. That’s because it’s a high-visibility color (especially against the dark background of the road). White also reflects a significant amount of light, so even in low-light conditions, it tends to be more visible than darker-colored cars.

So what’s the most dangerous car color? As you might have guessed, it’s the exact opposite of white. Black cars absorb the most light, so they’re harder for other drivers to see. They also tend to blend into the surrounding road. Similarly, while not quite as dangerous as black, gray-colored cars are a close second when it comes to hazardous colors on the road.

28. Chameleons Don’t Only Change Color to Camouflage

Two very colorful male panther chameleons fighting

When you were a child, you might have believed that chameleons could change color to match any background. That would be amazing, but many chameleon species can only adjust their color from shades of brown to green and back again.

Some chameleons are brighter than others, and panther chameleons might just be the most colorful of all. They change the color of their skin to communicate with other chameleons. For example, when two males face off, each one displays bright colors in an effort to intimidate the other. You can see this in the picture, which shows two male panther chameleons fighting.

Similarly, during the mating season, receptive females brighten or lighten their colors. But if they don’t want to mate, they display bold, vertical stripes of pink or orange.

29. Red and Yellow Can Stimulate Your Appetite

French fries in a red container with a red and yellow background

Have you ever noticed that many fast-food restaurants include red and/or yellow in their logos and marketing campaigns? That isn’t a coincidence. Research has indicated that red and yellow increase your appetite. That’s the same reason red has long been considered a classic color for dining rooms.

Some colors have the ability to suppress your appetite, too. And as you may have guessed, the most appetite-reducing shade is a cool color — blue. That’s why some dieting guides suggest using blue plates!

30. Human Eyes Are Most Sensitive to Red, Blue, and Green

An illustration of the different photoreceptors in human eyes

Our eyes contain two types of photoreceptor cells: rods and cones. Rods are the cells that help us see in low light, and cones detect color. It’s commonly said that we have three types of cones — one for red, one for blue, and one for green.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can only see these three colors. Although these three types of cones can detect colors throughout the visible spectrum, their sensitivity peaks at red, blue, and green. As a result, our eyes tend to be more sensitive to these colors.

31. Color Makes a Huge Difference in Purchase Decisions

Illustration of a neon shopping cart in a darkened store with neon lights

Color is a big part of our lives. But many of us don’t realize the magnitude of its impact, and that impact is especially strong in the retail world. More specifically, color has a huge amount of influence over purchasing decisions. Consider these interesting statistics:

  • 85% of shoppers name color as their primary reason for buying a given product
  • In magazines, full-color ads are noticed 26% more often than ads in black and white
  • 66% of people say they won’t buy an appliance if it doesn’t come in their preferred color

The field of color psychology is an ever-evolving one. And in the decades to come, we’ll almost certainly grow in our understanding of colors in the marketing world and beyond.

32. The Mantis Shrimp Can’t Actually See More Colors Than Humans

Picture of a brightly-colored mantis shrimp underwater

For years, we believed that the mantis shrimp — a small, ultra-colorful crustacean — could see more colors than humans (and maybe even more colors than any other animal). The reason? The eyes of these unusual sea creatures have 12 different photoreceptors for seeing color. Humans only have three.

However, a 2014 study found that while mantis shrimp have quite the collection of color receptors, they can’t detect mixtures of those colors like humans (and many other animals) can.

33. Green Is the Easiest Color for Humans to See

An image of vivid green leaves with a white rectangle

Of all colors in the visible spectrum, our eyes seem to be most sensitive to green — more specifically, to yellowish-green light. That’s why many newer ambulances, fire engines, and other emergency response vehicles have at least some yellow-green coloration.

Why green? Some scientists believe that because there’s so much green in nature, our eyes gradually developed a greater sensitivity to different shades of green.

34. One of Crayola’s Senior Crayon Makers Was Actually Colorblind

A close-up of different-colored crayons packed neatly together

In 1990, Emerson Moser, Crayola’s top crayon molder at the time, retired after more than 30 years with the company. During his tenure, he molded 1.4 billion crayons. Normally, that wouldn’t really be a newsworthy event. But Moser’s retirement came with an unexpected announcement — for the first time, he told his supervisors that he was colorblind!

That doesn’t mean that Moser couldn’t see color at all. Rather, he perceived colors in fewer categories than someone with normal color vision would. Clearly, his disability didn’t impact his job performance!

35. Most Blue Butterflies Aren’t Actually Blue

A blue morpho butterfly perches on green leaves

In the natural world, blue is a relatively rare color. And in many cases, animals that appear to be blue do not, in fact, produce blue pigment.

So what makes the blue morpho butterfly and other similarly-colored creatures look so unmistakably blue? It all comes down to something called structural coloration. If you look at the blue morpho’s scales under a microscope, you’ll see that they’re shaped like tiny diamonds. They reflect the light in a way that makes the wings appear to be a magnificent shade of blue.

36. An Object’s Color Is Caused by Light Absorption and Reflection

A simple diagram of how reflection and absorption of light results in color

Speaking of reflecting light creating different colors, the colors we see are the result of different wavelengths of light being absorbed or reflected. You may have heard people say that “white is the presence of all color” and “black is the absence of all color.” The diagram above gives you a clearer picture of what that means.

You already know that white light contains all the colors in the visible spectrum of light. So if an object appears to be white, that means it reflects all wavelengths equally. If an object appears black, that means it absorbs all wavelengths equally.

But what if an object has a color other than pure black or pure white? That means that it absorbs some wavelengths and reflects others. The reflected wavelengths of light form the color you see.

37. Redheads Need More Anesthesia During Surgeries

A redheaded girl with light eyes and freckles

It might sound too bizarre to be true, but research has indicated that people with natural red hair tend to be less sensitive to both general and local anesthetics. That’s because the inherited genetic mutation that causes red hair also controls how pain is processed in the midbrain.

You might think that means that redheads would also need more painkillers to effectively treat pain. But surprisingly enough, related research has determined that the opposite is actually true — natural redheads need lower doses of opioids and other pain-killing drugs.

38. Pink Was Once Considered to Be a Color for Boys

A boy and a girl wearing bunny ears

In many parts of the world, pink is a color closely associated with little girls. Blue is associated with boys. But did you know that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, that association was the opposite?

Red was considered a masculine color, so pink was a lighter, more boyish version. In some European cultures, the Virgin Mary was traditionally depicted as wearing blue. That likely explains why blue was considered to be a color for girls.

So why did pink and blue gender colors change? Most historians seem to point to campaigns by marketing companies. Those campaigns may have been influenced by two centuries-old paintings called Pinkie and Blue Boy. Pinkie showed a little girl dressed in pink, and Blue Boy showed a young boy dressed in blue.

Henry Huntington purchased both in the 1920s, and the purchase was a newsworthy one. As a result, some people began to think that pink had historically been a “girls’ color” and blue was traditionally a “boys’ color.”

39. There Was Once a War Fought Over Saffron

A vintage-style ship afloat in the ocean

Saffron is a spice that comes from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus. It’s still used as a spice today, but centuries ago, it was also used to create a bright yellow dye. During the Black Death in the 1300s, it was also highly in demand because it was used to treat plague patients.

This seemingly humble ingredient was so prized that in 1347, a 14-week war called the “Saffron War” began. The cause? A group of noblemen hijacked and stole a ship carrying 800 pounds of saffron.

The Saffron War wasn’t the only instance of saffron piracy. Around the same time period, thieves would preferentially steal saffron over gold!

40. Aristotle Believed Colors Were Sent From Heaven

Aristotle's statue against a bright blue sky

The field of color theory is an evolving one. And while we still have a lot to learn about color, our understanding of it has come a long way. You already know that Isaac Newton helped advance our knowledge of color through his development of the color wheel.

But even before Newton, Aristotle came up with the first known theory of color. He believed that colors were sent by God from heaven and that all colors came from lightness and darkness.

41. There’s a Therapy Based Around Colored Light

A chromotherapy practitioner shines green light on a patient's leg

Being around light and beautiful colors can certainly boost your mood. But did you know that some people believe that different colors of light can create positive change within the body?

The field of chromotherapy holds that certain colors of light can balance energies in the body and cure some conditions. Many experts regard chromotherapy as a pseudoscience, but that doesn’t stop some spas and alternative medicine practitioners from using it!

42. One Green Pigment Was So Toxic It Was Used as an Insecticide

An abstract illustration of a shiny green liquid

In 1775, chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele invented a rich green pigment he called Scheele’s Green. The striking color was soon used for wallpapers, paints, and children’s toys. It was also sometimes used as a clothing dye and as food coloring.

However, there was a problem: one of the pigment’s primary ingredients was arsenic. At the time, no one was aware of arsenic’s considerable toxicity. Over the ensuing decades, reports of mysterious poisonings became more common. Eventually, scientists made the connection, and Scheele’s Green was no longer used as a pigment.

That didn’t mean that this color was rendered useless. In the 1930s, Scheele’s Green and Paris Green (another arsenic-containing green pigment) were both successfully used as insecticides!

43. The Law Once Required Margarine to Be Dyed Pink

A close-up image of a pink spread in a cup on a white background

For centuries, butter reigned supreme in the world of rich spreads. But in the late 1800s, margarine emerged as a lower-priced challenger. To make it more appealing to shoppers, margarine’s manufacturers artificially colored it to make it look more like butter.

Naturally, this development infuriated butter makers. In three states — Vermont, New Hampshire, and South Dakota — the butter lobby won out, at least for a time. These states passed laws that required margarine to be dyed bright pink. The dye clearly distinguished margarine from butter, and it also made it appear distinctly unappetizing.

However, Big Butter’s victory here was short-lived. The Supreme Court eventually decided the laws were unconstitutional and overturned them.

44. The First Artificial Purple Dye Was an Accident

Purple dye suspended in water in a beaker

Speaking of artificial dyes, artificial purple dye has an interesting history. You might recall that in ancient times, sea snails were used to produce natural purple dye. The production process was a difficult one, and an artificial dye would certainly be a way to simplify things.

That artificial dye arrived unexpectedly in the year 1856. William Perkin, a student of the Royal College of Chemistry, was attempting to find a way to make quinine. Had he been successful, he would have made a major difference in the field of medicine — quinine was used as an anti-malaria drug. (It’s also a key ingredient in tonic water.)

Perkin didn’t end up finding a way to synthesize quinine. But what he did discover revolutionized the clothing industry. While working with coal tar, he accidentally created a purple dye he called mauveine.

At this point in time, purple dye was so prohibitively expensive that only the very wealthy wore purple clothing. Perkin’s dye made this richly-colored clothing accessible to everyone, and after his discovery, he left chemistry to produce mauveine on an industrial scale.

45. White Rooftops Might Help Cool the Planet

A man coats a rooftop in white paint

Scientists seem to be constantly coming up with new ways to fight global warming. Some of those ideas are challenging to implement. But others — like painting rooftops white — take very little effort but still pay off.

So how would white rooftops help the planet? You already know that objects that appear white reflect all wavelengths of light. Especially in densely populated areas, reflecting some of the sun’s light upward can lower temperatures.

White rooftops also have the potential to save you money. Darker-colored roofs absorb more wavelengths of light, so they also absorb heat from the sun. In warmer weather, that can increase your cooling costs. If you switch to a white roof, you just might see your electric bill decrease!

46. Different Colors of Light Stimulate Different Behaviors in Chickens

Several red chickens roaming free in the green grass

Many animals are sensitive to color. And as it turns out, chickens are actually among the most sensitive! One study compared the behavior of broiler chickens who were raised under red, white, blue, or green light. The researchers found that blue and green lights had a calming effect on the birds, but chickens raised under red and white lights were generally more active.

The study also tested the chickens’ preferences. The birds were eventually given the option to select their own lighting. Many of them stayed with the same color light they had been raised under. But after one week, all groups of birds chose either blue or green lights.

47. Pink Is the Oldest Known Biologically Produced Color

A close-up of rosy pink rocks

How old is color? Over its billions of years of existence, the Earth has undergone its fair share of transformations. And while it wasn’t necessarily black and white in its earlier years, it used to be markedly less colorful.

So what’s the oldest color in the world? The first known biological pigment was discovered by scientists in West Africa. It was a bright pink color created by fossilized blue-green algae. Even after 1.1 billion years underground, it was still vibrant!

48. Squid and Octopuses Communicate In Color

A multicolored squid moves through the dark sea

Color is a kind of language for humans. But for octopuses and squid, it serves as a primary means of communication! The blue-ringed octopus uses iridescent blue rings to warn predators and humans that it’s extremely venomous. The glowing rings might be beautiful, but the warning is one you should take seriously — the octopus’s venom can be fatal to humans.

That’s not the only way these highly intelligent creatures communicate. Male Caribbean reef squid have an unambiguous two-color language: red is used to attract females, and white is used to tell other males to stay away. The squid can even be two colors at once. If need be, he can turn red on the side facing a female squid and white on the side facing a male.

49. Red Is the First Non-Neutral Babies See

A black-and-white photo of apples with one red apple shown in color

Babies spend the first few months of their lives adjusting to the world around them. But did you know that some of that adjustment involves getting used to seeing color? For the first few weeks, babies mostly see in black and white (although they see some grayish shades, too).

It’s not like babies wake up one day and see in full color, though. They gradually start to be able to distinguish different shades. The first one is red. That’s because red’s longer wavelengths are easier for the human eye to detect. Predictably, blue and violet are the last colors that babies learn to distinguish.

50. Blue Eyes Are a Result of a Genetic Mutation

A close-up of a blue iris on a black background

The first humans had brown eyes. In fact, blue eyes only happened by accident! Research has indicated that all blue-eyed people share a single common ancestor. That ancestor lived between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, likely in northern Europe.

This person had a genetic mutation that effectively turned off the eye’s ability to make melanin. As the mutation was passed down over centuries, blue eyes became more common. Although blue is the second most common eye color in the world, experts estimate that only about 8% to 10% of the world’s population has blue eyes.

51. Humans Made Pigments As Long As 400,000 Years Ago

Real cave paintings found in Algeria

The first known cave paintings are around 40,000 old. But there’s evidence that humans have been making and using pigments much longer than we initially thought.

In 2000, archaeologists discovered pigments (and grinding machines used to create them) in a Zambian cave. They estimated that these pigments were roughly 300,000-400,000 years old!

Facts That Help You See the World in Color

Whether you’re a color theory enthusiast or just curious, even seemingly trivial color facts can shape your understanding of the world. Color adds vibrancy to the present world around us, but it also offers an intriguing glimpse into every facet of life.