108 Times People Experienced Pareidolia In The Most Unexpected Places (New Pics)

We see faces and familiar shapes everywhere we look. In clouds. In the bark of trees (or Ents as they prefer to be called). In the brick wall in the office kitchen. And just glancing at a car, we can tell that some of them are happy (or less than enthusiastic) to see us.

If you tend to see faces, animals, and other things in everyday objects, too, then you’ve encountered the wonderfully weird phenomenon known as pareidolia! It’s an experience a lot of human beings share because we’re wired to look for familiar patterns in random streams of information.

Scroll down for the full interview. Bored Panda has collected some of the most interesting and pareidolia-inducing pics, so scroll down, upvote your faves, and let us know which ones you liked the most and why. Oh, and let us know if you can’t spot anything familiar in any of the photos! We spoke with professor Kang Lee from the University of Toronto about pareidolia in detail, so be sure to read on for the full insightful interview.

And when you’re done with this list, have a look through our earlier posts about pareidolia right here and here. And let’s not forget about this one right here!

#1 This Is Why Literal Fairy Tales Exist

#2 I Want To Believe

Image credits: mattythedog

#3 What The Hell Is So Funny Steve?

Image credits: CloudyAero

“Pareidolia illustrates the interaction between the visual cortex and the frontal cortex of the human brain. It suggests that our brain is highly sensitive and expecting to encounter and process some special classes of objects in our environment because they are biological and socially important to our adaptions to the environment,” professor Lee explained to us.

“For example, when you are walking in a dark street in the evening, your brain is on high alert to detect whether any threat will jump out any moment. In this case, you are more likely to have face or human pareidolia because it is important for you to err on the side of caution if you mistake a tree as a human being.”

The professor pointed out that this is the reason why pareidolia often occurs in ambiguous situations. “However, for some people, their frontal cortex’s expectation for certain objects (e.g., faces) become so high that they see faces in many situations where no faces exist.”

“Even in this kind of situation, it is normal. There is nothing wrong with these individuals,” he stressed. “Pareidolia is different from paranoia or delusion or abnormal vision of individuals with psychosis. In fact, a recent study shows that those people with pareidolia tend to be more creative. Also, people who are religious may be able to see religious icons in non face objects as well.”

#4 I Thought That Lady Was A Muppet

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#5 A Cute Dog But Actually Just Rust

Image credits: XiaoRJ

#6 These Two Rocks Look Like A Mother Breastfeeding Her New Born Child

Image credits: xaeminn

Professor Lee highlighted that pareidolia as a phenomenon shows how powerfully our imaginations (which comes from our frontal cortex) can affect our perception (which takes place first in the visual cortex which is located in the occipital lobe in the back of our head).

He added that pareidolia also tells us that “what we see are not things over there in the world but actually the co-creation of what is out there physically and what is in our mind mentally through our expectations and imaginations.”

“Pareidolia is a broader phenomenon as it extends to touch and sound and other sensory channels. For example, you sometimes sense your phone vibrating when it is not, it is a tactile form of pareidolia. When you hear voices in a noisy environment, it is an auditory form of pareidolia.”

#7 Pigeon Poops Portrait Of Itself On A Leaf

Image credits: Koda_Has_A_Top_Hat

#8 Alien Pickle

Image credits: MaxMelisson

#9 The Dog’s Ear Is Another Dog

Image credits: davideftw

“If someone reports seeing Jesus in a piece of toast, you’d think they must be nuts,” professor Lee previously told BBC Future. “But it’s very pervasive. We are primed to see faces in every corner of the visual world.” According to him, our imaginations exert a very powerful influence over our perceptions.

(On a semi-related note, no wonder we keep bumping into things—we’re too busy imagining what it’d be like to fly on the back of a fire-breathing dragon.)

#10 This Overflowing Cupcake Ended Up Looking Like An Elephant

Image credits: Skyblue_Monty

#11 Pulled The Door Handle Off And He Was As Shocked As I Was

Image credits: MonsterPooper

#12 There Is A Lion Wearing Sunglasses On The Belly Of This Grasshopper

Image credits: opi_q

According to Live Science, people who are religious or have very strong beliefs about the supernatural see faces in objects and landscapes more often. Cosmologist Carl Sagan thought that pareidolia is a survival mechanism that helps us recognize faces from a distance and determine whether we’re being approached by an ally or an enemy.

Meanwhile, legendary artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci saw pareidolia as an artistic device: “If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills.”

There’s also something called the electronic voice phenomenon, aka auditory pareidolia, where people hear hidden messages that were supposedly placed there on purpose by songwriters. And that… that’s given rise to plenty of conspiracy theories, like the one that began circulating in 1966 that musician Paul McCartney had supposedly died and been replaced by a lookalike. Conspiracy theorists looked for clues in The Beatles songs and album covers.

#13 This Boiled Egg Exploded While Cooking And Looks Like A Snail

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#14 I Found A Piece Of Driftwood That Looks Like A Dragon’s Head

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#15 I’m Flying

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#16 The Snow On Top Of This Mountain That Looks Like A Lizard

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#17 My Car Seems Pretty Happy About The Snowstorm

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#18 Stupid Sexy Flanders

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#19 This Orchid Really Looks Like An Eagle

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#20 Let Us Out

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#21 This Shadow Looks Exactly Like A Man’s Head. Lone Peak, Big Sky, Montana

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#22 Chomp

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#23 The Pattern On My Dog’s Chest Looks Like A Cat Mid Sneeze

Image credits: VintageRice

#24 I Found A Mussel With Natural Googly Eyes

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#25 The Lighting On This Toilet Makes Me Feel Like I’m Peeing On The Smiling Wide Open Mouth Of My Own Shadow

Image credits: PedroFPardo

#26 The Ice In My Glass Sort Of Looks Like A Face

Image credits: HOOKMAN-BUTTZ

#27 This Pure-Bread My Friend Got At A Restaurant

Image credits: HolyCoconuts

#28 This T. Rex Shaped Cactus

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#29 What Did He See

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#30 I See Sid

#31 Scared Switches

#32 This Roof Console That Fell Out Of Place Looked Pretty Surprised

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#33 Whatever This Chair Is Going Through I Can Relate

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#34 She’s Having Twins

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#35 I Wonder Which Song Was On

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#36 This Ashy Potato That Looks About Done With Life

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#37 These Bacon Slices Look Like An Evil Clown

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#38 My Lock Got A Bit Scratched Up And Now The Middle Looks Kind Of Like A Horse

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#39 Dragon Tree

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#40 Bubbles That Form A Little Cat Shape

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#41 Found A Rock That Looks Like A Shark

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#42 This Framed Photo Of A Slice Of Toast That Looks Like A Dog Peaking Out Of The Toaster

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#43 “Yer A Hazard, Harry”

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#44 The Happiest Little Bagel

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#45 This Walnut That Looks Like An Owl Face

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#46 A Lot Of Digletts

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#47 Dog Stick I Found

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#48 Looks Like There’s A Goddess In This Orange

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#49 Kissing Your Car Crash

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#50 My Chicken Sandwich Looks Vaguely Like Johnny Bravo

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#51 This Locust With A Lion’s Face On Its Back

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#52 Welcome To Mexico – Buenas Noches, Amigos

#53 Yip Yip Yip Yip Yip Yip Yip Yip

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#54 My Drink Looks Like A Crocodile Is Looking At Me

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#55 I Am The Eggman

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#56 Not Sure If My Burger Is Disrespecting Or Provoking Me

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#57 This Projector Support At My English Class Is So Happy To Do His Job

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#58 Such Cake Much Sweet

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#59 Found This Stump That Looks Like Cthulhus Skull

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#60 This Burnt Cheese Looks Like A Penguin

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#61 This Crack On The Stairs Looks Like A Cat

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#62 This Wood Grain On My Desk That Looks Like A Dog

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#63 My Coffee Looks Like It Just Forgot About A Meeting

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#64 My Child’s Car Seat Didn’t Take Kindly To Being Washed

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#65 They’re In The Trees

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#66 Our Library Scanner Looks Like A Xenomorph

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#67 Tire Mark On Highway Looks Like Hummingbird

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#68 Am I Tripping Or Is There A Chihuahua Face On My Girlfriend’s Naan Bread?

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#69 Ever Notice How A Hammer Looks Like A Man About To Swing A Baseball Bat?

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#70 Is Something Trying To Climb Out From My Jar Of Nutella?

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#71 This Ice Cream Is Very Happy

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#72 Found A Little Cow On The Underside Of My Dog’s Collar

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#73 This Cloud Looks Like A Farting Squirrel

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#74 This Dirt Stain Of Edgar Allen Poe Peaking Out At Work

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#75 This Router Thingy Looks Like It’s Panicking

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#76 My Boyfriend’s Scoop Of Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Looks Like It’s Smiling

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#77 The Shadow From My Towel Rack Looks Like Donald Trump

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#78 The Foam In My Beer Looks Like A Smiling Dog

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#79 At Costco, My 3 Year-Old Says “That Big Boat Is Crying!”

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#80 Lamp’s Reflection In My Sunglasses

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#81 This Dead Fly Looks Like Soldier With Flamethrower

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#82 Bit Of Fluff On My Bed Looks Like A Person Running Up A Hill

Image credits: DeathbyIndianman

#83 Piebald Ball Python

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#84 Thicc Meat

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#85 My Cake Naturally Formed An Evil Smiling Face

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#86 This Salsa Container Has Condensation That Resembles A Gorilla’s Face

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#87 He’s Trapped

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#88 Air Jordan In A Cucumber

#89 This Cactus Looked Happy To See Me

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#90 I Just Discovered A Sentient Warrior Living Inside The Top Of My New Water Bottle

Image credits: HerAsylum

#91 Collapsed Crane In Lithuania

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#92 Goofy Building Ruined My Landscape Shot

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#93 This Little Guy In My Sheet Music

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#94 A Women Face Appeared Behind My Sister

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#95 My Sloth Looks Like A Steering Wheel

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#96 Was Cleaning The Ceiling Panels At My Work When This Guy Suddenly Ambushed Me

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#97 My Mom Sent Me This And Asked, “Am I Going Crazy Or Does This Look Like A Little Old Lady With Her Legs Crossed Holding Something In Her Lap With A Handkerchief On Her Head?”

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#98 Why The One Is Sad And The Other Is Surprised?

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#99 My Beer Foam Looks Like A Mouse Having A Beer At The Bar

Image credits: DreadedRedBox

#100 This Bike Helmet Looks Like A Happy Sloth

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#101 Turned Around In The Office When

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#102 Is There A Dude Praying In My Filter?

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#103 This Splash Of Water On The Ground That Looks Like A Dragon In Flight

Image credits: matt_622

#104 There’s A Face In My Sausage

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#105 This Cloud Looks Like Sonic The Hedgehog

Image credits: ChannelTwo

#106 I Accidentally Spilled Milk During Breakfast This Morning In The Shape Of A Bust

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#107 The Paint Peeling On This Building Kind Of Looks Like The Head Of A Lion

Image credits: arennesree

#108 The Gap Between Two Eggs Looks Like A Bald Man Yelling

Image credits: fly_air

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