When you see a mirage — that false glimmer of water that so often appears on the horizon on a hot summer’s day — that’s just your eyes’ way of saying they own you. You see what they want you to see, even if it doesn’t really exist.
With these 20 deceptive photos, it might take a few moments for you to override your eyes and ignore the effects of the camera’s angle — to see through the mirage, so to speak. So take a look at the pictures, but don’t scroll too fast, or else you might never see what’s actually going on!
1. No wonder this guy took the bus — his leg was all mangled! Wait, maybe he was just really, really flexible at the ankles. Or that foot actually belonged to the person sitting across from him.
2. They say that elk, not bears, are the main killers of humans at Yosemite National Park. And with massive antlers like that, it’s not surprising they can do serious damage! Oh wait, that’s just a tree.
3. Either we’re looking at a cat so large and powerful that he has servants feeding him kibble by hand every second of the day, or he’s just laying on a blanket that matches his fur. Knowing cats, we’re inclined to believe it’s the former.
4. Unfortunately the hockey player in blue had no chance of winning this fight. After all, how can you go one-on-one with a hockey ghost and land any meaningful blows?
5. You probably learned that horses don’t have human bodies. But that probably didn’t stop your eyes from thinking, just for a second, that this horse on the right would be more likely to race Usain Bolt than Seabiscuit.
6. A tourist in Amsterdam must’ve thought she stepped into another dimension when she saw this building, which looked razor thin from the sidewalk. Passersby beware: you could probably cut your arm on that building’s edge!
7. Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts must’ve gotten the wrong idea when they saw all those celebrity couples earning “combination nicknames,” like Brangelina. They took it a step too far, though, and combined their bodies.
8. Did you ever hear the story of three ghosts who waited patiently for the local bus? It’s a chilling tale. Actually, this was just how the dew formed on the bus stop’s glass early one morning.
9. This proves it, folks: King Kong was real. But instead of swiping at planes from the top of the Empire State Building, he preferred resting his forearms on top of four-door sedans. That ape knew how to have a wild time!
10. At this office, the bosses believed in synergy and teamwork. That’s why they installed windows in each cube so you can look at your buddy while he works! Wait, never mind. That’s just a mirror.
11. For a moment, she thought a floating cow head had visited her on an early, snow-covered morning. But really, a little mound of snow covered up the cow’s legs, making the head look detached. Cows’ heads do not float.
12. One of the darkest periods in American history was during the peak of the “Planking” movement. People laid on things and took pictures, then, for some reason, everyone laughed. This planker appeared to be planking on water. The man behind him laughed.
13. For having his lower half separated from his abdomen, this dog looked to be in pretty good spirits. Maybe he saw a tennis ball nearby or was dreaming sweetly of milk bones. Or maybe his “lower half” was actually a bark-covered log.
14. This girl had a real Voldemort look about her. The furrowed brow, the slits for nostrils, the deep frown. But truthfully this was just what you get when you cross a girl with the under snout of a dog.
15. Thanks to a little thing called perspective, this helicopter looks like it’s about to enter epic combat with an ant. Or a massive ant is about to go nuts on a regular-sized helicopter. With perspective, anything is possible.
16. This simple photo started a hot debate across the internet: was this a cloud that looked like a feather? Or a feather that looked kind of like a cloud floating in front of the camera lens?
17. Navigating the mall around Christmas time can be tough, but it’s practically impossible with this maze of escalators and mirrors reflecting everything. What’s up, what’s down? What’s real anymore? Thanks to these escalators, we’ll never know.
18. What are the odds that, when this elephant flung a trunk full of water at nearby tourists, the splash would be a spitting image of himself? This elephant certainly had a way with water!
19. Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Salah of Liverpool kept warm by tucking his arm into his sleeve. That much is given. But trying to find where exactly he stuck his arm into his sleeve might take you a minute.
20. A backpack in a sterile office…nothing to see here, folks. But… wait a second. Why isn’t the backpack reflected in the mirror? Was this some kind of vampiric backpack? Somebody get the garlic.
These photos definitely have simple explanations, but that didn’t stop your eyes from seeing what they wanted to!
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