If there’s one thing the human brain and the internet have in common, its deriving meaning from something very mundane and both of these phenomenons have struck again, with the recent “discovery” of the Mars rat, a small rock that does indeed look like a rodent – on Mars.
It comes from a photo taken by the Curiosity Rover last year but has seemingly, only now been combed through by experts and Mars aficionados alike recently. In the image, between a pair of rather non-descript rocks, is another that looks to have ears, eyes, snout, legs and perhaps even tail – though if this was a Mars creature, its back legs leave a lot to be desired.
As much as we may want to find extra-terrestrial life, the other reason people see a small, air breathing mammal where that rock lies, is a phenomenon called pareidolia, which as any number of in-the-know Redditors will tell you, is the human tendency to recognise shapes and images where there are none. It’s thought to be an evolutionary trait to help children bond with parents early on in their development.
KitGuru Says: Of course it would be far cooler if this really was a Mars rat, but hey, if you want to pretend, there is a twitter account for it, which seems to be giving away all his species’ plans for an invasion of Earth.