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Macro Photographer Reveals the Horrifying Details of an Ant’s ‘Face’

A professional photographer has captured a close-up image of an ant’s face, revealing its horrifying features in super high resolution just in time for Halloween.

In his 1944 play ‘No Exit’, the French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre wrote that “hell is other people”. He had clearly never seen an ant up close. 

In an image captured by Lithuanian award winning photographer Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskus, the facial features of a carpenter ant were thrown into sharp relief, and let’s be honest, they look like they’ve been ripped straight out of a monster flick.

A zoomed in picture of an ant’s head (Credit: Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskus)

The portrait – which was shot with a Canon EOS R camera with a 65mm macro lense – was marked out as an image of distinction at the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. At first glance, two malevolent, beady eyes seem to stare blankly out of the ridged and dented face, while a line of needle-like yellow teeth occupy the lower head above an alien jaw.

However, this horrifying aspect is nothing more than an example of the human brain’s propensity to see faces – or some other meaningful interpretation – in pretty much anything, even when there is none. This phenomenon is known as pareidolia.

In reality, the yellow teeth are nothing more than hairs that naturally form around an ant’s mandibles. The beady eyes meanwhile are the sockets where antenna connect to the head. One of the carpenter ant’s real compound eyes can be seen disappearing into the dark vignette at the top right of the image.

There are roughly 20 quadrillion ants scheming away beneath our feet.

With this in mind the portrait loses a lot of its horror, which is good, because recently a team of scientists from the University of Hong Kong estimated how many ants there likely are populating the world – and the number is staggering.

The study, which has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed a collection of 489 earlier studies to create its insect census. It concluded that there are roughly 20 quadrillion (20,000,000,000,000,000) ants scheming away beneath our feet. The researchers also estimated that the ants have a combined biomass the equivalent to around 20 percent of the human race, however, they made no comment on who would likely win between the ant hordes and humanity in a fair fight.

Stay tuned to IGN’s science page for more weird science. 

Anthony Wood is a freelance science writer for IGN

Image credit: Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskus

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