"Gran's Canyon" and Other Human-Looking Pieces of Nature

I've always been bad at that game where you look at clouds and see shapes in them. I said this to a friend a few weeks ago on a day with perfect blue skies and lots of fluffy clouds to scrutinize.

Me: "Cotton candy?"
Bridget: "No, that looks like an upside-down rubber duck floating in a sea of crystal shards."

Despite my obliviousness, even I can see the shapes in these objects. Here are a few natural occurrences of nature that look a lot like… well, things that don't naturally occur in nature.

The Badlands Guardian

We can thank Google Earth and "Supergranny" for the discovery of this guy. The Badlands Guardian is located near Medicine Hat in Alberta, Canada. The natural shape of the land looks remarkably like a man wearing a native American headdress and earphones.

The head was likely created by erosion of the soft soil following a particularly intense rainfall. The earphones are a road and an oil well. The head is located in Cypress County, so the Cypress County Council held a contest to name the landmark. You can read more about the Guardian here and check out a list of suggested names.

The Old Man of the Mountain

Sadly, if you haven't already seen the Old Man, you never will – at least not in person. After 10,000 years in existence, the Old Man of the Mountain collapsed in 2003. He was carved out by glaciers many moons ago, but the first confirmed discovery of his profile was in 1805. However, Native American legends that date back as far as 1604 said that following the Merrimack River would lead to a mountain with a stone face. Daniel Webster had a particularly poetic description of the Man:
"Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."
Although the state tried desperately to save the Old Man – including using cables and spikes to try to keep him upright – he "died" sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. on May 3, 2003. People were so upset that they left flowers at the base of the mountain to mourn him.
Even though he's not there now, you can still see him, sort of – viewfinders were erected at the base of the cliff that let viewers see how the Old Man of the Mountain used to look.

Cydonia Mensae

This startling face on Mars was found on July 25, 1976, by a couple of computer engineers looking through NASA archives at the Goddard Space Flight Center. At first experts thought it was just a trick of the light, but then a second picture corroborated the first. It's generally thought just to be an optical illusion due to the formation of the land, but at least a couple of people have different theories. Richard C. Hoagland, who is somewhat famous for his… "interesting"… theories, thinks it's evidence of an ancient Martian civilization. If you'd like to read more about Hoagland's theories, check out Wikipedia. It's entertaining, if nothing else.


Galle is a crater on Mars, which isn't really a big deal, except it looks like a smiley face. The smiley is created by a mountain range and the eyes are two small craters within the big crater. The Viking Orbiter first took a picture of the "happy face crater" on March 12, 1999.

The Man on Mars

Another one from Mars – the Mars rover Spirit took pictures of what appears to be a man sitting on a rock on Mars. But he's a lot tinier than he appears to be in the picture – NASA issued a statement saying that the "man" was "a 2-inch sedimentary rock that has been eroded by the wind."

Mushroom Rocks

This one doesn't quite fit the category "human" looking pieces of nature, but they're pretty cool all the same. These rocks used to be shaped more symmetrically, but years and years of erosion – the rock that forms the top of the mushroom is a harder rock than the one on the bottom. You can find rocks like this scattered all over the world - this particular rock is from Mushroom Rock State Park near Salina, Kansas. Image from Wikipedia user NationalParks.

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NASA has presented numerous images purporting to prove the cydonia face is just rocks and shadows. And perhaps it is. Unfortunately NASA's credibility is greatly diminished by the fact the the "proof" images have been heavily altered, or in some cases are actually photos of completely different areas on Mars. I don't know if it is a face or not, but don't be too quick to trust NASA outright, they've been caught lying on numerous occasions.
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Well, for some reason, Neatorama ate the post I tried to make yesterday, and now Some Canadian Skeptic has made me points for me.

Anyway, last I had heard, the face on Mars wasn't corroborated by subsequent pictures.
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As for the 'face on mars" thing, Richard Hoagland is one of the most fraudulent pseudo-scientists I can imagine. The image above is from the Cydonia region of Mars, and it has since been photographed in Hi-resolution, and has been mapped in 3-D....it looks NOTHING like a face.

One of the posters above, 'Greg' hit the nail on the head: Or brains are designed to look for pattens in chaotic images, a phenomenon called 'paredolia'.

I think the author of this entry was being a bit coy when describing Hoagland's site as "entertaining". That, it surely is.
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i think only formations on earth should be considered natural.

plus, most all of these look completely different from other angles and in 3 dimensions and the direction of the light pushing out different shadows.

camel rock in NM looks like a camel resting from any side.

a potato chip looks like abe lincoln. Natural formation?
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