Why Is Blue So Rare In Nature?

  • Published: 09 January 2018
  • Duh, except for the sky… and the ocean…
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    Among living things, the color blue is oddly rare. Blue rocks, blue sky, blue water, sure. But blue animals? They are few and far between. And the ones that do make blue? They make it in some very strange and special ways compared to other colors. In this video, we'll look at some very cool butterflies to help us learn how living things make blue, and why this beautiful hue is so rare in nature.

    Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of Natural History
    Bob Robbins, Ph.D. - Curator of Lepidoptera
    Juan Pablo Hurtado Padilla - Microscope Educator

    Richard Prum, Ph.D. - Yale University
    Vinothan Manoharan, Ph.D. - Harvard University


    Bagnara, J. T., Fernandez, P. J., & Fujii, R. (2007). On the blue coloration of vertebrates. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, 20(1), 14-26.

    Cuthill, I. C., Allen, W. L., Arbuckle, K., Caspers, B., Chaplin, G., Hauber, M. E., ... & Mappes, J. (2017). The biology of color. Science, 357(6350), eaan0221.

    Kinoshita, S., Yoshioka, S., & Miyazaki, J. (2008). Physics of structural colors. Reports on Progress in Physics, 71(7), 076401.

    Kinoshita, S. (2008). Structural colors in the realm of nature. World Scientific.

    Prum, R. O., Quinn, T., & Torres, R. H. (2006). Anatomically diverse butterfly scales all produce structural colours by coherent scattering. Journal of Experimental Biology, 209(4), 748-765.

    Vukusic, P., & Sambles, J. R. (2003). Photonic structures in biology. Nature, 424(6950), 852-855.

    Vukusic, P., Sambles, J. R., Lawrence, C. R., & Wootton, R. J. (1999). Quantified interference and diffraction in single Morpho butterfly scales. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 266(1427), 1403-1411.


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Comments • 12 702

  • It's Okay To Be Smart
    It's Okay To Be Smart   2 years back

    You never notice how rare blue is, until you do, and then you (don't) see it *everywhere*.

    Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this week's video! And commence the blue-pun party

    • piece of shit
      piece of shit  2 weeks back

      Thanks to channels like these I got really into biology haha, Not certainly a bad thing though.

    • Gamerify
      Gamerify  1 months back

      It's Okay To Be Smart what about blue eyes?

    • the artwoolf
      the artwoolf  1 months back

      @Assasin Adrian real blue is rare

    • Assasin Adrian
      Assasin Adrian  1 months back

      Blue is rare? *Looks up at the sky and google Image of the earth*

  • g3rcia
    g3rcia  22 minutes back


    • Ondrae The Great
      Ondrae The Great  1 hours back

      Why is blue so rare in nature?

      Water: *am I a joke to you?*

      • WinxBattles Season3
        WinxBattles Season3  1 hours back

        Blueberries: *Am I a joke to you?*

        • Arth_ Earth
          Arth_ Earth  3 hours back


          • arsalan khorshidi
            arsalan khorshidi  5 hours back

            sky isnt blue you idiots

            • VeriStorm 8
              VeriStorm 8  7 hours back

              What do you mean blue is rare in nature? The sky is blue and that thing is everywhere!

              • Rina Yani
                Rina Yani  8 hours back

                them: why blue is rare in nature
                me: there are lots of blue flowers though

                • Smita Purushottam
                  Smita Purushottam  10 hours back

                  Why did he kill so many butterflies?

                  • Leos Fakt acc
                    Leos Fakt acc  11 hours back


                    • superherosneaky
                      superherosneaky  12 hours back

                      Look up the sky is blue

                      • Jake Inman
                        Jake Inman  17 hours back


                        • Kavita koirala
                          Kavita koirala  20 hours back

                          I saw blue butterfly and I

                          • The Orange Miner
                            The Orange Miner  21 hours back

                            People: nature give us more blue Nature: you have water boi

                            • The awkward dolphin
                              The awkward dolphin  1 days back

                              Blue is rare in nature
                              Sky: hold my ozone layer

                              • İsa Koçhan
                                İsa Koçhan  1 days back

                                No Turkish subtitles

                                • CharlynZR
                                  CharlynZR  1 days back

                                  i think the sky’s natural

                                  • Trey Mansfield
                                    Trey Mansfield  1 days back

                                    Water is blue

                                    • Im gay and all but,
                                      Im gay and all but,  2 days back

                                      **Looks up**

                                      • Husein Mammadov
                                        Husein Mammadov  2 days back

                                        70% of the earth
                                        Am I a joke to you?

                                        • Sriram Bojjalwar
                                          Sriram Bojjalwar  2 days back


                                          • Monster High Bites
                                            Monster High Bites  2 days back

                                            Strange That Isaac Newton bevleved in God, and for all his wisdom this new religion of science calls it Evolution?
                                            This Evolution crap is just Atheists standding on the sholders of Giants!

                                            • MonkeyTBush834 :
                                              MonkeyTBush834 :  2 days back

                                              Why do I never see butterflies

                                              • Blaze Rod Needs 10,000 Subs

                                                That moment when u see something blue and think that they are diamonds but it's actually lapis

                                                • Blaze Rod Needs 10,000 Subs

                                                  Purple is crying right now

                                                  • CyclopEmperor
                                                    CyclopEmperor  2 days back

                                                    There is a blue dog, it’s from blues clues.

                                                    • I like Oofing
                                                      I like Oofing  2 days back

                                                      0:46 i thought u said bob ross 😂😂😂

                                                      • Andrea grey
                                                        Andrea grey  2 days back

                                                        Now I feel a little bit special to have blue eyes ❤️ I love them 💙

                                                        • Andrea grey
                                                          Andrea grey  2 days back

                                                          Now I feel a little bit special to have blue eyes ❤️ I love them 💙

                                                          • Z1anoz
                                                            Z1anoz  2 days back

                                                            This guy has clearly not seen the ocean, its like 80% Earth...

                                                            • Severe Sincere
                                                              Severe Sincere  2 days back

                                                              Because the Ocean stole all the blue from the land and swapped some of that blue for some white with the sky.

                                                              • Mustafa Özgür
                                                                Mustafa Özgür  2 days back

                                                                They are not butterflys they are akumas

                                                                • T Fluid
                                                                  T Fluid  2 days back

                                                                  Evolution lol ok

                                                                  • 友LynchXBlob
                                                                    友LynchXBlob  2 days back

                                                                    And water is not blue right? Its yellow....


                                                                    • Almytho
                                                                      Almytho  2 days back

                                                                      and the sea??

                                                                      • pink shadow
                                                                        pink shadow  3 days back

                                                                        Once as a kid I killed a blue butterfly........

                                                                        • Hunni
                                                                          Hunni  3 days back

                                                                          "Blue is so rare in natur"

                                                                          People with blue eyes: am i a joke to you?

                                                                        • Numbs
                                                                          Numbs  3 days back

                                                                          🦋the emoji

                                                                          • Promaster2090
                                                                            Promaster2090  3 days back

                                                                            2:15 Sticker Titan Katowice 2014 in nature

                                                                            • Promaster2090
                                                                              Promaster2090  3 days back

                                                                              Why blue so rare in nature

                                                                              Sky : am i joke to you?

                                                                              • Lindsay Svidergol
                                                                                Lindsay Svidergol  3 days back

                                                                                5:09 don’t thank me

                                                                                Edit: pause the vid😹

                                                                                • ThatsAwesome_Vlogs
                                                                                  ThatsAwesome_Vlogs  3 days back


                                                                                  • Piyush Chauhan
                                                                                    Piyush Chauhan  3 days back


                                                                                    • jacuzzi tub
                                                                                      jacuzzi tub  3 days back


                                                                                      • joseph ness
                                                                                        joseph ness  3 days back

                                                                                        If you think blue is rare B**CH HAVE YOU SEEN ANY PURPLE?

                                                                                        • Zadan Iqbal
                                                                                          Zadan Iqbal  3 days back

                                                                                          The blue bat in the beginning looks like kyorge no one knows who that is

                                                                                          • ꧁ Rose ꧂
                                                                                            ꧁ Rose ꧂  3 days back

                                                                                            What about purple?

                                                                                            • fraughtfish
                                                                                              fraughtfish  3 days back

                                                                                              Ocean: am I joke to you?