The phenomenon known in psychological terms as pareidolia – seeing human features, especially faces, where they don’t actually exist – often raises its head when we observe certain natural rock formations. These two dozen plus bizarre human-shaped rocks illustrate what happens when pareidolia meets petrology face to face.
The “Cote de Granit Rose” at Ploumanach in France’s northwestern province of Brittany offers the serious pareidoliac a virtual field day. Wave erosion over millions of years have carved the pretty pink granite rocks scattered along the shore into a plethora of anthropomorphic figures and faces, a sampling of which is shown above.
(images via: R.V. Dietrich)
Mimetoliths, rocks “the shape of which resembles something else”, range from loose stones to large natural topographic features. These 6 examples are from Turkey and have been named (clockwise from above left) by photographer Algis Kemezys as Armored Warrior, Sad Widow, Toothed Ancient and Zues’ Disdain.
(image via: R.V. Dietrich)
Above is one more Turkish mimetolith, dubbed The Goat Herder – looks more like The Goat Eater if you ask me… lookout, Billy!
Old Man Of The Mountain
One of the most famous human-shaped natural rock formations in the United States, if not the world, sadly crumbled to dust and pebbles on May 3rd, 2003. The “Old Man of the Mountain” was more than a landmark, it symbolized the rough and stoic character of its home state, New Hampshire. Discovered by surveyors in 1805, the petrified profile has been New Hampshire’s state emblem since 1945 and continues to grace the state’s license plates, highway-route signs, and the back of New Hampshire’s 2000 Statehood Quarter.
(image via: The Epoch Times)
Immediately following the formation’s collapse, popular dismay was so great that people visited the base of Cannon Mountain to leave bouquets of flowers as a tribute to the Old Man’s passing. Gone but not forgotten, the Old Man of the Mountain Revitalization Task Force installed coin-operated viewfinders that overlay an image of the Old Man prior to the collapse onto its current appearance.
Wish You Were Here!
The above assortment of rocky human heads and profiles have been noted by so many people over a long enough time that they’ve been immortalized on picture postcards.
Stone outcrops that resemble generic human heads are one thing, those that evoke the countenance of an actual person are something else altogether! This startling likeness of the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in natural black lava can be found at Black Gorge in Iao Valley on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The so-called JFK Profile stands about 50 feet (15 m) high and is easily visible from the scenic road that winds its way through the Iao Valley.
Hot Rock Lincoln
Say what you want about America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, but the dude totally rules. At the very least, he rocks… enough to have a strikingly familiar stony outcrop labeled Lincoln Rock in his honor. Located in – where else? – Lincoln State Park overlooking the Columbia River, Lincoln Rock
(image via: Texas Mountain Trail)
Here’s another natural Lincoln doppelganger, located in West Texas’ Davis Mountains. The above scenic photo showing a restful and recumbent Lincoln was taken on Hwy 67 between Marfa and Presidio. Though not as “in your face” as the JFK Profile, both Lincoln Rock and Lincoln Profile show a distinct resemblance to ol’ Abe… honest!
Combining the haughtiness of a “we are not amused” Queen Victoria with the imperious regal countenance of an Egyptian princess, Queen’s Head is located neither in England nor Egypt, but Taiwan. The formation is one of many that dot the 5,580-ft (1,700 m) long cape at Yehliu located on the north coast of Taiwan, between Taipei and Keelung. Besides “Queen’s head”, Yehliu’s other named sea stacks include “Fairy’s Shoe”, “Bee’s Hive”, “Ginger Rocks” and “Sea Candles.”
(image via: Skyscraper City)
Though nominally protected by its inclusion within the Yehliu Geopark, Taiwan scientists estimate that continual exposure to the same ocean winds, waves and weathering that created the Queen’s Head over the past 4,000-odd years will cause it to collapse – possibly within just a few years. Knowing this sad yet inevitable fact, both natives and tourists travel to Yehliu to get their pictures taken with the Queen while they can!
The Badlands Guardian
(images via: PC World)
Impressed by the Mars Face? The Badlands Guardian, as the above geomorphological feature is called, is much closer to home though one still needs to view it from a fair ways above. Located near the city of Medicine Hat in southeastern Alberta, Canada, this natural silt formation appears to be a proud Native Canadian chief who’s tuning into the modern age via the use of headphones – actually an oil well and the access road leading to/from it.
The Badlands Guardian is notable in that it exercises two different types of psycho-visual phenomena: Pareidolia and the Hollow-Face Illusion. The latter comes into play when an image, in this case a concave valley, appears to be a raised feature due to the brain’s preference to see it that way.
Here’s a video on The Badlands Guardian that originally aired in 2006 on CHAT-TV:
Amah Rock (“the stone that is gazing out for her husband”) is a 50-ft (15 m) tall natural rock formation located on a hilltop in Hong Kong’s Sha Tin district. The rock is said to resemble the figure of a woman carrying a baby on her back.
According to legend, Amah Rock was once a fisherman’s wife who climbed a hill each day to look out over the sea and await her husband’s return. One day he did not return, having drowned at sea, but the woman still climbed the hill hoping that he was merely delayed by a storm. Looking down at this example of faithfulness and devotion, the Ancient Chinese Gods took pity upon the woman and turned her to stone. Geez, Ancient Chinese Gods, couldn’t you have just revived her hubby and sent him home?
Grand Teton Goes Solo
“Grand Teton” might mean Big Tit in French, but Wyoming’s famous peaks have got nothing on this solitary beached breast from Japan. Congealed from volcanic lava explosively expelled from nearby Mount Unzen, the monstrous mammary looks almost TOO real – somebody call Playboy’s airbrush specialist, stat!
(image via: Fines Moth Black)
The humongous hooter is somewhat of a local tourist attraction in the southern Japanese seaside town of Reihoku, and helpful city workers have even set up signs directing all and sundry to the Oppai Ishi (breast stone)… as if anyone could really miss a 5-ft (1.5 m) wide disembodied boob. Uh, easy there girls, you don’t want to arouse an earthquake or anything, hmm?
Space Face Fuss
Human-shaped rocks seem to be pretty common here on Earth, so it’s no surprise they’re being found OFF the earth in places no human has ever been. The much-ballyhooed Mars Face, yet another Mars Face and now a tiny, perfect rock fairy that looks like it escaped from a Roman fountain. If that doesn’t cinch the Wet Mars theory, what does?
The original Mars Face was spied on old Viking 1 Orbiter images of the Red Planet that were alarmingly low res. It was the Seventies, fer pete’s sake! Most everyone knew that when sharper images of the Cydonia plain became available, what was once thought to be a monumental alien head would be resolved to a monumental alien… hill. So it goes, and maybe it’s just as well Jupiter only has only one Great Red Spot.
(image via: Den Of Geek)
Rock Men are cool, just ask the Rock Man from Nilsson’s animated classic film The Point. Rock Women are cool too, just scroll back a bit and you’ll remember why. Maybe it’s just as well, though, they’re made of rock and can’t move – except incrementally via erosion and suddenly when gravity wins its long and patient battle.