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 inanimate objects with faces, 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.

Bored Panda has collected some of the most interesting photos showing things with faces, so scroll down, upvote your faves, and let us know which of these cool photos you liked the most and why. Oh, and let us know if you can’t spot a funny face in any of the photos! We spoke with professor Kang Lee from the University of Toronto about seeing objects with faces 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 - it's filled with interesting things!

#1

This Is Why Literal Fairy Tales Exist

This Is Why Literal Fairy Tales Exist

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Chancey
Community Member
4 months ago

These are adorable!

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#2

I Thought That Lady Was A Muppet

I Thought That Lady Was A Muppet

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Slinkman
Community Member
4 months ago

Elmo's cool albino cousin ;)

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#3

What The Hell Is So Funny Steve?

What The Hell Is So Funny Steve?

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Hans
Community Member
4 months ago

Neither of the two do approve.

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"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

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

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

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K2D2
Community Member
4 months ago

Mother nature at its finest. :3

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#5

I Want To Believe

I Want To Believe

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aglmdo8
Community Member
4 months ago

pareidolia or not, this pebble is amazing !

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#6

Let Us Out

Let Us Out

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Francis
Community Member
4 months ago

What have you done to Frank, the Tomato? :O

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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

Dragon Tree

Dragon Tree

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Alex Harris
Community Member
4 months ago

I see Charizard.

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#8

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

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

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Ola Polowczyk
Community Member
4 months ago

Hooman, why?!

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#9

Pigeon Poops Portrait Of Itself On A Leaf

Pigeon Poops Portrait Of Itself On A Leaf

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Danieletc
Community Member
4 months ago

Shit knows their shit!

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“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

Whatever This Chair Is Going Through I Can Relate

Whatever This Chair Is Going Through I Can Relate

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Steve
Community Member
4 months ago

I think this chair is my spirit animal...

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#11

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

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

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Hans
Community Member
4 months ago

Cool lion

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#12

A Cute Dog But Actually Just Rust

A Cute Dog But Actually Just Rust

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Nickitams
Community Member
4 months ago

Looks like a watercolour painting!

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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

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

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

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Hans
Community Member
4 months ago

Behold, the great white Lizard.

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#14

I See Sid

I See Sid

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Iris
Community Member
4 months ago

Where have I see this dude before ? Was it Ice age ?

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#15

This Overflowing Cupcake Ended Up Looking Like An Elephant

This Overflowing Cupcake Ended Up Looking Like An Elephant

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FULL_EFFECT
Community Member
4 months ago

An elephant in a barrel bath

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#16

I Found A Piece Of Driftwood That Looks Like A Dragon's Head

I Found A Piece Of Driftwood That Looks Like A Dragon's Head

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Hans
Community Member
4 months ago

This is almost too perfect

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#17

Scared Switches

Scared Switches

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Ronel du Plessis
Community Member
4 months ago

The poor things

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#18

This Ashy Potato That Looks About Done With Life

This Ashy Potato That Looks About Done With Life

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Francis
Community Member
4 months ago

does it burn when harry potter touches it?

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#19

This Boiled Egg Exploded While Cooking And Looks Like A Snail

This Boiled Egg Exploded While Cooking And Looks Like A Snail

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Nea
Community Member
4 months ago

Oie this is so cute

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#20

Chomp

Chomp

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DforDorothy
Community Member
4 months ago

Cool pic!

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#21

Looks Like There's A Goddess In This Orange

Looks Like There's A Goddess In This Orange

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Danieletc
Community Member
4 months ago

Kist the Sun goddess

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#22

I’m Flying

I’m Flying

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Don Golosso
Community Member
4 months ago

Why did I hear this in Ralph Wiggums voice?

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#23

My Car Seems Pretty Happy About The Snowstorm

My Car Seems Pretty Happy About The Snowstorm

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Daria B
Community Member
4 months ago

Looks sarcastic to me.

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#24

"Yer A Hazard, Harry"

"Yer A Hazard, Harry"

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Nicole Blomkamp
Community Member
4 months ago

It's the boogey man from nightmare before christmas!!!

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#25

Bubbles That Form A Little Cat Shape

Bubbles That Form A Little Cat Shape

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Danieletc
Community Member
4 months ago

The breed is ... let me guess ... a teacup?

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#26

This T. Rex Shaped Cactus

This T. Rex Shaped Cactus

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Shawn
Community Member
4 months ago

The Cactasaur Rex aka the Derpasuar

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#27

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

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

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Kesyra
Community Member
4 months ago

I see another face in the back of that face.

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#28

I Wonder Which Song Was On

I Wonder Which Song Was On

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Danieletc
Community Member
4 months ago

Pole dancing

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#29

Dog Stick I Found

Dog Stick I Found

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Daria B
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

It is the old wizard's magic staff and at the same time his summon creature.

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#30

The Pattern On My Dog's Chest Looks Like A Cat Mid Sneeze

The Pattern On My Dog's Chest Looks Like A Cat Mid Sneeze

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Lee roberts
Community Member
4 months ago

Such a cute dog

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#31

She’s Having Twins

She’s Having Twins

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Slinkman
Community Member
4 months ago

Britknee and kneemo

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#32

This Orchid Really Looks Like An Eagle

This Orchid Really Looks Like An Eagle

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Potterhead Unicorn
Community Member
4 months ago

These are called pink moth orchids if anyone's interested!

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#33

What Did He See

What Did He See

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DforDorothy
Community Member
4 months ago

I don't know,but he's having a running nose ever since.

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#34

Alien Pickle

Alien Pickle

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Tee
Community Member
4 months ago

The bottom picture messed up pickles for me

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#35

My Drink Looks Like A Crocodile Is Looking At Me

My Drink Looks Like A Crocodile Is Looking At Me

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Nea
Community Member
4 months ago

Are you sure this is pareidolia and not real something inside?

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#36

The Ice In My Glass Sort Of Looks Like A Face

The Ice In My Glass Sort Of Looks Like A Face

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Hans
Community Member
4 months ago

Creepy!

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#37

This Pure-Bread My Friend Got At A Restaurant

This Pure-Bread My Friend Got At A Restaurant

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Slinkman
Community Member
4 months ago

Well this is a unique bread of dogs.

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#38

Found A Rock That Looks Like A Shark

Found A Rock That Looks Like A Shark

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glowworm2
Community Member
4 months ago

It looks like a Bullet Bill from Super Mario.

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#39

Stupid Sexy Flanders

Stupid Sexy Flanders

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Troux
Community Member
4 months ago

Hahah perfect Simpsons reference!

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Note: this post originally had 107 images. It’s been shortened to the top 39 images based on user votes.

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