The History of Color

Until the invention of synthetic dyes and pigments in the mid-19th century, the color for paint, clothing, cosmetics, and the like was derived from such natural sources as plants, trees, and even insects. Find out about some of the strangest places we used to get color from.
Paint made out of corpses
It’s true! Mummy brown paint was derived from ground-up ancient Egyptian mummies until the 1960s when manufacturers ran out of…well…dead bodies. This pre-Raphaelite painter buried a tube of the paint after learning its source.
Are you drinking the pulverized bodies of cactus-eating insects?
This red dyestuff is still used in cosmetics and beverages.
Fit for royalty: snail gunk?
Kings, emperors, and high priests were once the only ones who could wear garments made from this indigo dye that was extracted in very small amounts from the glands of a snail.
The most expensive color?
This semiprecious stone was the source of the pigment ultramarine, which is said to have been more valuable than gold.
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Take our quiz on the origins of colors, pigments, and dyes!

Name That Animal!

We’re back with more curious-looking critters. Do you know what they are?
This Animal Is (Almost) Immortal!
article / Science
© Science Faction Images—SuperStock/age fotostock
Zebra + Deer = ?
article / Science
© Marcel Schauer/stock.adobe.com

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Postcards from the 6th Mass Extinction
So far there have been five notable mass extinctions on Earth. A growing number of scientists argue that we’re now in the midst of a sixth. Postcards from the 6th Mass Extinction is a podcast hosted by John P. Rafferty that attempts to personalize extinction, emphasizing the survival challenges that familiar forms of life currently face, while at the same time considering the pivotal roles they play in their own ecosystems.
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Florida Marine Patrol officer monitoring the Mariel Cuban Boatlift in 1980 in the Straits of Florida between Cuba and Florida. The Mariel boatlift was a mass emigration of Cubans to the United States in 1980
Mariel boatlift

In April 1980 Cuban Pres. Fidel Castro opened the port of Mariel, west of Havana, to any residents who wanted to leave Cuba. Over the next six months, some 125,000 Cuban immigrants (nicknamed “Marielitos”) crossed the Straits of Florida to the United States.

Japanese-American infantrymen hike up a muddy French road to their new bivouac area. 2nd Bn., 442nd Combat Team, Chambois Sector, France. (October 14, 1944) World War II
442nd Regimental Combat Team

This United States infantry unit was formed in 1943 during World War II. It was made up almost entirely of Nisei (second-generation) Japanese American volunteers. Also called the Purple Heart Battalion, the unit is the most-decorated in United States military history for its size and length of service.

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Entertainment and leisure activities have been a part of all cultures in one form or another since the ancient times, whether the activity in question involved participating in a dance performance, attending a Broadway show, going to a music festival, or watching a movie.
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Geography & Travel Geography & Travel
Planet Earth contains some extraordinarily diverse environments, some of which are easily habitable and some not so much. In different areas of Earth, one might find sweltering deserts, dense tropical rainforests, or bone-chilling tundras. Each biome and habitat comes with its own selection of flora and fauna, and it may include physical features such as canyons, volcanoes, rivers, or caves. Human beings have built homes in many different environments, settling the area and organizing it into units such as cities, states, regions, and countries, each with its own points of interest. Shifting trends in human migration have resulted in a human geography that is profoundly different from that of centuries ago.
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The study of the human mind and body, how these function, and how they interact—not only with each other but also with their environment—has been of utmost importance in ensuring human well-being. Research on potential treatments and preventive medicine has expanded greatly with the development of modern medicine, and a network of disciplines, including such fields as genetics, psychology, and nutrition, aims to facilitate the betterment of our health.
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It's easy enough to agree that human beings all around the world have certain basic requirements that must be fulfilled in order to ensure their individual and collective well-being. History has shown us, however, that it's not so easy to form societies or communities that fulfill these requirements for all members. The fight over human and civil rights has persisted for hundreds of years and remains alive today, both within the borders of nations and on an international scale. It has led to large-scale social movements and reforms concerning issues such as suffrage, slavery, women's rights, racial discrimination, environmentalism, gay rights, and more.
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Humans have long pondered not only how we came to be but also why we came to be. The earliest Greek philosophers focused their attention upon the origin and nature of the physical world; later philosophers have theorized about the nature of knowledge, truth, good and evil, love, friendship, and much more. Thus, philosophy involves a methodical assessment of any and all aspects of human existence and experience. The realms of philosophy and religion have sometimes intersected in conducting inquiries such as these. As with philosophy, the study of religion underscores how humankind has long speculated about its origins. The possibility of a higher being (or beings) to which livings things owe their existence has long captived human thought. Many religions also offer their own views on the nature of good and evil, and they may prescribe guidelines and judgment on different kinds of human behavior.
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The world today is divided territorially into more than 190 countries, each of which possesses a national government that claims to exercise sovereignty and seeks to compel obedience to its will by its citizens. Governments can be classified in any number of ways. For example, they might be classified by the number of rulers, thus distinguishing government by one (as in a monarchy or a tyranny) from government by the few (in an aristocracy or oligarchy) and from government by the many (as in a democracy). Governments can also be classified by mode of succession; for example, ascension to governmental leadership may follow the rules of hereditary succession, or it may be determined through elections or by force. Governments also vary in terms of the laws and rules of conduct that each political entity follows.
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How can the sky be blue one day and stormy the next? Why do heavy objects tend to fall downwards when dropped? How are birds able to fly (and why can’t I do the same?)? Human beings have long been curious about the world in which we live, striving to identify connections among the phenomenons we witness and to understand how it all works. The field of science has developed over many centuries as a way of studying and understanding the world, beginning with the primitive stage of simply noting important regularities in nature and continuing through the rise of modern science. The modern-day sciences cover a vast range of fields, including biology, chemistry, meteorology, astronomy, physics, and much more.
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Physical contests and recreational games have long played a part in human society. In both team and solo sports, the human body has been pushed to its limits in the name of improving athletic performance and to break record upon record. The ancient Olympic Games are an early example of the contests in which humans have engaged to showcase physical prowess. In modern times, sports and games have evolved into a lucrative and competitive industry, while other leisure activities, such as card and video games, can be competitive or can just be a way to unwind or socialize.
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Humankind has long striven to improve its living conditions through the development of tools, instruments, and transportation and communications systems, all with the goal of making our lives easier, more productive and—why not—more fun, too! Thanks to human curiosity and technological research, many significant inventions have been made throughout history that in turn made a difference in our daily lives.
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These are the arts that meet the eye and evoke an emotion through an expression of skill and imagination. They include the most ancient forms, such as painting and drawing, and the arts that were born thanks to the development of technology, like sculpture, printmaking, photography, and installation art, the latter a combination of multiple creative expressions. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different eras in art history have had their own principles to define beauty, from the richly ornamented taste of the Baroque to the simple, utilitarian style of the Prairie School.
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Does history really repeat itself, or can we learn from the mistakes of those who came before us? History provides a chronological, statistical, and cultural record of the events, people, and movements that have made an impact on humankind and the world at large throughout the ages. Investigating the causes and results of past events is critically important in gaining a full understanding and perspective of present-day issues.
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