The internet is a vast and often perplexing place where truth and falsehood are sometimes indistinguishable. Among the many images that have gone viral on social media platforms in recent years, one that has caught the attention of many is the picture of a seven-headed snake. This image has been widely shared online, with many claiming it is accurate. However, it has since been identified as a fake.
An image purports to show a unique seven-headed snake discovered in Honduras. Polycephaly (having several heads) is a phenomenon that many different kinds of animals (most notably snakes and turtles) occasionally display. It is unique enough that discoveries of polycephalic creatures typically become the topic of news reports.
Polycephalic animals, in general, fare poorly (particularly in the wild) and have concise life spans. In contrast, two-headed snakes have been recorded to survive long enough to breed and live out typical lifespans.
Bicephaly/dicephaly (two-headedness) cases are infrequent, while tricephaly (three-headedness) is highly unusual. As far as we know, no living creatures born with more than three heads have ever been recorded, making the seven-headed snake depicted above a headline-grabbing anomaly if true.
The image, however, is simply a computer manipulation of an earlier digital alteration, the latter of which circulated in early 2012 as a photograph of a considerably more credible (though similarly phoney) three-headed snake discovered in India. A Photoshopped rendition of an original picture of a single-headed snake.
For instance, the lighting and shadows on the snake’s body are inconsistent, and the heads do not appear to be attached to the body in a realistic way. The snake’s scales also appear to be mirrored, which is a telltale sign of digital manipulation.
Despite the image being identified as a fake, it continues circulating on the internet. Many people are still sharing it, either because they are unaware of its true nature or because they find it amusing to trick others into believing it is accurate. However, being aware of the ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀs of sharing fake information online is essential. Not only does it spread misinformation, but it can also lead to people being ᴅᴜᴘᴇᴅ or sᴄᴀᴍᴍᴇᴅ.
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