Bird Or Bunny? Optical Illusion Sends Internet Down A Rabbit Hole

Are you ready for another debate that rivals the white or blue optical illusion dress, and makes the Yanny or Laurel debate look so last year? Well then get ready for the latest Twitter video that has everyone scratching their heads as to whether or not the animal featured is a fuzzy black bunny or a sleek raven?

Daniel Quintana is a senior researcher in biological psychiatry for the University of Oslo in Norway. On Sunday, he posted the video to Twitter. As of Tuesday, the clip has received 1.7 million views on Twitter, been retweeted more than 8,000 times, and has been liked 33,000 times.

Quintana wrote in his tweet, “Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose.” From there, the debate took off because the animal that was being pet looked a bit like a cute little black fluffy bunny, but the ears were unusually sharp-looking. And that is what really intensified the debate as many people began questioning whether it was actually a rabbit since the “ears” looked more like a bird with its beak open.

Quintana said that it is not his original video. He first spotted the clip on a tweet sent by photo service Imgur on Saturday, then decided to share it to his personal feed.

“The static bird/rabbit illusion is well-known within psychology and philosophy, so when I saw a video, I thought it would be interesting to share it, ” Quintana has said.

Quintana himself wasn’t fooled into the fur-or-feathers online debate.

“I thought it was fairly clear that the video was of a bird… as you can see the translucent nictitating membrane sweep across the eye horizontally (rabbits don’t have membranes like this) and the positioning of the ‘ears’ are a little strange,” he said.

However, he did intentionally caption the video the way he did in order to send readers down the proverbial rabbit hole.

“I made the rabbit comment to prime readers into thinking it was actually a rabbit, to give it a fighting chance at least,” Quintana stated. “When you only see the beak in your peripheral vision, it really seems like they’re ears. Without this misleading cue, I thought most people would have seen a bird.”

As for the bird in the video, Quintana says, “I’m pretty confident this is a white-necked raven, but I’m not a corvid expert so I can’t say this with 100 percent certainty.”

For those wondering, corvid is the bird family that includes crows and ravens.
Regardless, it seems like those on social media had fun with the debate as they tried to settle whether it was Duck or Rabbit Season. One Twitter user even said, “Not sure if rubbing left looking rabbit on the nose or an upward-looking bird on the head (ears=beak).”

Many people on social media used their own research skills to come to their own understandings with one person also citing the nictitating membrane that Quintana noticed, by writing, “That is not a rabbit, it is indeed a corvid.”

Quintana has been enjoying the public response.

“I’m surprised to see how popular the tweet has been. I only expected that psychological scientists would be interested, but it’s gone much further than my community,” he said. “It seems about two-thirds of people are insisting it’s a bird, and the remainder is either insisting it’s a rabbit or can’t decide.”

What did you think it was at first? Let us know!

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Anastasia is an American ex-pat living in Ireland. When she's not writing she can be found wandering the Irish countryside in search of inspiration. You can follow her writing adventures on Twitter @AnastasiaArell5 or Instagram @writeranastasia26
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