In Brief

A Famous Optical Illusion Comes to Life

Sometimes you just can’t trust your eyes.

When you were younger, at some point you were probably shown one of those famous optical illusions that forced you to question what you were seeing. Was it an old or young woman, it is a vase or two people in conversation, and, more relevant for my point, is it a rabbit or a bird?

The unattributed German illustration first appeared in 1892 (via Wikipedia)

This week, a viral video originally posted by the World Bird Sanctuary’s Executive Director Dawn Griffard, was helped along by Dan Quintana’s post (shared above).

The earliest known version of this illusion was an unattributed drawing from the October 23, 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter, a German humor magazine. It was captioned “Welche Thiere gleichen einander am meisten?” (“Which animals are most like each other?”) and “Kaninchen und Ente” (“Rabbit and Duck”). But the recent video transforms the illusion into something more eerie for its realism but equally confusing, which may partly be the result of the video caption. It took me two viewings to finally figure out what was going on, but when you realize what it really is, you can’t help but be dumbstruck. Life, once again, imitates art.

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