At first glance it just looks like a pile of sticks and leaves — but there's actually a snake hidden in this viral photo.
Helen Plylar, a 26-year-old PhD student studying biology at the Florida Institute of Technology, tweeted out the photo on Sunday morning, urging people to spot the snake hidden among the foliage. By Wednesday it had been retweeted thousands of times, and it was stumping plenty of people who flat out gave up on spotting the snake.
So Plylar tweeted out a version of the photo with the snake circled — but even when it's pointed out, it's still hard to see.
Plylar said in an email on Wednesday that the snake in the photo is a copperhead, a venomous snake native to North America, that boasts patterns that make it "virtually undetectable" in its natural habitat, as is clear from the picture.
Plylar explained the viral photo was originally taken by a Texas man who noticed the snake. Plylar first saw the photo when Whitney Walkowski, a fellow scientist, sent it to her in a text.
"We have a long-standing group-chat with two other former labmates who are also female herpetologists," Plylar said.
"Occasionally, one of us will send the other a 'spot the snake' or 'spot the herp' picture. When Whitney sent it, I thought it was so wonderful that I decided to share it with my followers on Twitter (many of whom are also herpetologists who share similar images regularly)."
Plylar said she was surprised to find that the photo went viral — and on Twitter she seemed disheartened by responses from people who seemed to hate snakes.
"So many people are quick to say, 'Ugh, I hate snakes. Nasty, slimy, mean creatures they are,'" Plylar said. "Except, they aren't, they aren't inherently mean or vicious. ... Should people be worried about snake bites? Unless they are picking snakes up or otherwise teasing them, probably not. I implore everyone who has questions or concerns about these animals to reach out to local wildlife experts, or any of the many amazing scientists who have developed an online presence around defense of snakes and other wild animals."