Funny animal pictures and the internet go hand in hand, but it seems that image editors might finally have found the line you just shouldn’t cross. Yes, they have moved the eyes of animals to give them front-facing people-peepers. It’s a glimpse into a nightmarish alternate world, and a compelling argument for why man shouldn’t play god.
Generally, in nature, predators have front-facing eyes to better see their prey. Meanwhile, the hunted are more likely to have eyes on the sides of their heads, giving them superior peripheral vision to avoid being ambushed and eaten. Obviously, though, the internet has found a way to warp nature.
Alongside the equally hilarious-yet-horrifying trends of “animals without necks” and “birds with arms,” the web can now disturb you even more by moving the eyes of animals to the front of their faces. It’s hard to trace where the trend originates from, but we blame the pigeon.
In 2015 graphic designer Kevin Moody uploaded a picture of a pigeon that looked like it had staccato-stepped out of Chicken Run. In the images, the eyes were edited to face forward, and the adorably creepy weirdo has found a resurgence in popularity recently in the net’s newest viral craze.
Case in point? On September 14, 2016, imgur user Kiyoi posted the pigeon picture up again, with another seven of its freaky friends. Where their exact origins lie is unclear, but the popularity of the creep-tacular animal photos means that they’re now eyeballing people across the web. There’s a worrying thought.
Seeing animals that look so familiar but with something just slightly “off” about them can really give you the heebie-jeebies. For example, despite the uncanny resemblance, this isn’t Vladimir Putin; it’s a doe with front-facing eyes. They’re all the better to see you with, my deer!
Marine predators have side-mounted eyes to see better underwater. Moving a shark’s eyes to the front of its head, then, just seems to make them cuter. And, perhaps, more deadly, as one commenter pointed out, “If you happened upon a great white that looked like that, you’d be going ‘DAAAAAW’ right before it bit a chunk out of your abdomen.”
Dolphins, meanwhile, go in the opposite direction from sharks: moving their eyes seems to make them look like happy hellspawn. Indeed, if nature had thrown this curveball, people wouldn’t want to swim with them, and kids would be crying as they were lowered into dolphin pools (quite possibly as sacrifices to our dark dolphin masters).
However, some of the manipulated mutants look almost natural. For instance, the general consensus on this giraffe is that it looks “like a disappointed mother.” We’re not sure we’d like to meet the child, though. In fact, we think this one wants to drink your soul through her eyes and leave it shredded on the savannah.
Perhaps the reason these images are so unsettling is because it’s subconsciously hardwired into our heads that things with eyes on the front are predators. So when we see usually harmless animals like cows or rabbits with a new eye alignment, it freaks us out.
Or, as another imgur user put it, “Part of me thought this was funny, and the other part is super anxious about it.” Another commenter wrote, “This is disturbing. I demand more!” Of course, never one to let the public down, the internet responded in kind.
Some of the pictures are firmly on the funny side and made the animals look like caricatures of themselves. The goldfish, for example, is the embodiment of the surprised emoji, an image enforced by its little chubby face, which couldn’t look like it wanted to eat you if it tried. (It has no teeth, after all.)
Not that they need scary teeth to look like they’re going to drag you prematurely to the pits of hell, though. We love goats, but some people find their horizontal pupils creepy enough, even without their eyes being forced around their faces to resemble a monster from Pan’s Labyrinth.
Despite the insistent cries of “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH PUT IT BACKK” and “I am not the same person anymore,” though, the images still had people clamoring for “MOAR.” They also had people questioning what humans would be like with eyes on the sides of their heads – but, having seen these, we’d rather not know.
After all, what we got was already disturbing enough. But imgur users did bring up an intriguing question: is this what humans look like to animals? That would explain why wild animals freak out when people get too close – running like hell seems completely rational in this case.
Even animals with eyes already quite close to the front of their heads weren’t safe and had their soul-windows shifted in unsavory ways. Indeed, the slightest of alterations turn them into comedic nightmares or give them expressions that look alien on a non-human face.
Some images even made viewers nostalgic. Their cartoon-like appearances had internet commenters remarking “that’s exactly what it’s like in every kids cartoon” or that they were “like every drawing of an animal I ever did as a kid.” So perhaps that’s why they looked so familiar…
Despite the pictures making you want to laugh and scream, “Why is it looking at me like that? Make it stop!” at the same time, they’ve been hugely popular in a really short time frame. In fact, just a day after they had been uploaded, they had already gone viral – like some sort of creepy frontal-eye plague.
And if it was a plague, these forward-eyed freaks would have spread worldwide. Need proof? The original imgur post has been viewed more than 1.6 million times and garnered more than 15,400 points. That’s a spectacular achievement by itself. But the images have also gone on to weird out various media sites across the web, too.
We’ll leave you with the comforting thought that now you’ve seen them, you can’t un-see them. Yes, these images will be forever seared into your brain, and now you have a nice full tank of nightmare fuel to help wake you up at night screaming. No need to thank us; it’s our pleasure.