Bird or bunny? The latest optical illusion is freaking people out

This video of an animal having its head stroked may have you scratching your own.

Is it a bird or a bunny?

It's a burning question that has taken its place in the pantheon of internet-dividing debates, like the color of #TheDress in 2015 or whether a voice was saying Yanny or Laurel in a viral audio clip last year.

Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose pic.twitter.com/aYOZGAY6kP

— Dan Quintana 🐰 (@dsquintana)
Daniel Quintana, a biological psychiatry researcher at the University of Oslo in Norway, started the debate with a tweet that showed an animal being rubbed on the head.

"Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose,'' he wrote.

But is it a rabbit? Or is that a bird having the back of its head stroked?

Wow, I sat here for ages seeing someone petting a crow w its beak open to the air, and thinking “rabbits??”

— Dr. Nic Thompson (@NicoleAlineSci)

I see a raven. Anyone else?

— TravellingMan (@SJJB55)

It looks like you are stroking the head of a crow. Wild.

— The Electric Agora (@ElectricAgora)
The video was originally posted on Aug. 17 by Imgur before Quintana decided to have a little fun with it a day later.

And the correct answer is...

"I thought it was fairly clear that the video was of a bird,'' he told CNET. "As you can see the translucent nictitating membrane sweep across the eye horizontally (rabbits don't have membranes like this) and the positioning of the 'ears' are a little strange."

#TheDress is black and blue - or white and gold?

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Of course! Who didn't see the *checks notes* nictitating membrane across the eye? It's clear as day!

Oh wait, somebody actually did.

That is not a rabbit, it is indeed a Corvid. Notice the nictitating membrane when it blinks. Instead of moving up and down, it sweeps across the eye horizontally like a windscreen wiper and is translucent.— Greta GG (@GretaGarbolini)
Corvids are a bird family that includes ravens and crows, which some other eagle-eyed folks guessed in the comments.

Some pointed out the video was a real-life version of a popular drawing of a duck-rabbit illusion from the 1800s that went viral in 2016.

The optical illusion came to life, it's official, someone has a magic pen!!! pic.twitter.com/EDX84LTzT8

— Keisha Renee (@Broadwaybandit5)

The odd position of the bunny "ears" — actually the bird's beak — appeared to be the real giveaway.

"When you only see the beak in your peripheral vision, it really seems like they're ears. Without this misleading cue, I thought most people would have seen a bird,'' Quintana said.

Now that the mystery is solved, the bird-bunny video can join the proud history of optical illusions involving hugs , tile floors and more that made everyone on the internet take a few moments together to wonder what we're staring at.

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