You Won’t Believe What These Images Under a Microscope Really Are

By: Kate Row | Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

Things are not always what they appear to be. It’s all about perspective. This is especially true if you look at things under a microscope. Zooming in on everyday items will both surprise you and potentially horrifying. 

We found these images of common items under the lens of a powerful microscope and they are completely unrecognizable. Check out these images and see if you can recognize their true nature.

Is that a stick covered in melted metal?

This silver chrome object is not a stick. Nor is it something from another planet. In fact, this creepy looking thing is on your body right now! 


Source: Aminessuck/ Reddit

We’ll give you a hint. You’ll find this item on your face.


A Human Eyelash

This is a photo of a human eyelash under a microscope. It’s unbelievable that this is what human hair looks like zoomed in. We almost wish we hadn’t seen the reveal.


Source: Sampagemakeup/ Pinterest

Now we can’t stop thinking about how close this thing is to our eye! Next time you lose an eyelash take a look at it before you brush it away and think about how it looks close up. We like to call this “pretty from afar but far from good”.

It’s Not a Rose Petal

When we first saw this two things came to mind: flower petals or some kind of coral floating in the ocean. We can confidently say that both of those guesses are way off. 


Source: Caspar2632/ Reddit

We don’t think we would have known what this photo was if we were given 1,000 guesses.

A Cat’s Tongue

You read that right! This photo is an extremely close look at a cat’s tongue! If you’ve ever had a pet cat you’ll know their tongues are really rough. Those ridges help them clean themselves.


Source: Facebook

But who knew they looked so alien under a close lens? We’ll be thinking about this next time our cat gives us a lick.

Have We Stumped You Yet?

We can give you one hint on this one. This is a living creature! The texture looks like something plastic but it is in fact an animal (technically). 

Source: Thatsemguy/ Reddit

And as scary as it appears, it might actually be hanging out in your kitchen as we speak.


A Fruit Fly

If you’ve left the fruit out for too long we’re sure you have had some fruit flies flying around your kitchen. These pests can be obnoxious! Thankfully, they’re super small or else we’d be concerned about them taking over the world.

Source: Futurity/ Pinterest

You might be even more surprised to hear that this particular image is a fruit fly’s eye. Next time you’re shooing away a fruit fly you might remember this photo and let them be.


Any Guesses?

We promise this isn’t any kind of bacteria or freaky looking creature. These are the particles that make up an everyday item that you might find in a classroom. 

Source: Welshtractor/ Reddit

In fact, this item can make a really horrific noise that might make your skin crawl.



Who knew a simple stick of chalk could be so intricate on the inside? We all learned in science class that everything is made up of atoms but to actually see it on a zoomed in level is really crazy!

Source: Southernliving/ Pinterest

This kind of image requires an incredibly strong kind of microscope. It allows us to see these details which would never be possible with just the naked eye.


It’s Not (Technically) Shells

This one is a little misleading. It looks like a collection of shells and rocks and that is not exactly what we have here. 

Source: Rednibass/ Reddit

Although, you would find this object all over the beach so you wouldn’t be too far off with that guess.


It’s Sand

This is an image of grains of sand. It’s hard to imagine those tiny grains can have as much detail. Think about how much sand covers the beach and how each of these pieces is totally unique, like snowflakes.

Source: Thrillest/ Pinterest

We certainly will never see sand the same again.Now, technically sand is just eroded rock, so our guesses weren’t too far off the mark. How can something feel so soft between our toes and actually be so rough?


It’s Not An Alien

We were totally convinced that this was an alien at first glance. I mean, we can’t think of any animal we know that looks like this.

Source: Jaykirsch/ Reddit

And we’d be pretty freaked out if these things were roaming the earth. As it turns out, they are.



These are 2 day old zebrafish larvae. Larvae are just underdeveloped forms of creatures, like caterpillars in cocoons before they become butterflies. These larvae are totally miniscule and basically can’t be detected by our eyes alone.

Source: Theguardian/ Pinterest

Under the microscope, we can see the spongy detail and what looks like faces. Why do they look so shocked? We must admit, their faces match our own when we discovered what these little guys were.


A Friend From Another Planet?

We don’t blame you if you don’t have any guesses as to what this image is. To be honest, we couldn’t imagine what this could be either. 

Source: edorelia/ Reddit

But, it is an object that we are all familiar with. It might even be growing in your garden as we speak.


A Cut Rose Stem

They say every rose has its thorn. In this case, even one of the most beautiful flowers isn’t so beautiful up close and personal. If the stem looks like this we’d be interested to know what the petals would look like as well.

Source: urbaki/ Pinterest

We wonder if all those little droplets are water or something else. The texture looks really different under the scope as well. It’s almost rubbery!


Is That Hay?

Hay was the first thing that came to mind when we saw this image. 

Source: Microscan/ East News

What else could those course-looking strings be? Think smaller… much smaller!


Needle and Thread

You might have heard the expression “looking for a needle in a haystack”. Well, this is looking for a haystack in a needle! That “hay” is really just a single thread wrapped through the loop of a needle.

Source: whitewood&linen/ Pinterest

Those little frayed ends that are going every which direction are just pieces of the thread that we could never possibly see without a microscope. Feeding a thread through a needle is really difficult without a steady hand and now we know why!


A Knotted Pretzel Perhaps?

This doesn’t look too foreign to us. It resembles a knotted piece of rope or even a soft pretzel made of dough. 

Source: Jason Burns Dr. Ryder/East News

There’s definitely no aliens here, but it also isn’t exactly what it seems.


It’s Human Hair

We have millions of these little guys all over our heads. They might not appear to be bright yellow like this one but if you look close enough under a microscope this is what your hair actually looks like!

Source: Jordan Anais/ Pinterest

In photos of hair this close, it actually appears scaly. But this hair is perfectly healthy! Interestingly, animal fur and human hair look pretty similar from this perspective. 


Outer Space (but smaller)

All these wacky shapes and colors remind us of the solar system. That might be Saturn or Jupiter spinning around. 

Source: themarinediaries/ Pinterest

And all those little discs might just be materials floating around in the eather. One hint: These little guys can really glow!



These are bioluminescent phytoplankton that float around in the ocean. These special little microscopic friends can light up the ocean to give it this amazing glow.

Source: Bored Panda/ Pinterest

People will often refer to them as the stars in the sea! This is a rare case that we can’t decide if they look more amazing under a microscope or just regular. If you haven’t already seen them, we highly recommend.


On Hint

This little object is so small you would never even be able to feel it on your skin unless you knew it was there. It might give you a little tickle. 

Source: e_l_foto/ reddit

No, it’s not a plant or a snake. But, it does bite and we try to avoid them as much as possible.


Mosquito Foot

We can say that we never thought we’d see a mosquito’s foot in such detail but here we are! All those little features fit onto the tiny tip of this pest’s leg. Next time you get a mosquito bite you’ll remember that this creepy object was sitting on your skin!

Source: Ceramics/ Pinterest

We already hated mosquitoes but this makes us even more wary of having bug spray on hand so that we don’t have to worry about these little blood suckers getting close to us.


A Beautiful Rug

We would love this pattern on a rug in our home. The colors are fantastic! But, what we have here is much smaller than a rug and much more delicate. 

Source: Lightstalking/ Pinterest

If you look closely, you’ll see little hairs make up this pattern. What could it be?


A Butterfly

We’d be very impressed if you guessed this was a butterfly! We never knew that butterfly wings have hairs on them just like we do on our heads. The wings look so velvety smooth.

Source: Mungfali/ Pinterest

If we’ve learned anything from all of these images it is that things are not always as they seem. We think we’ll be taking a closer look at lots of things from now on.


Is That a Car Tire?

This looks like the grooves of a car tire, compete with all the little dust and dirt particles that get stuck in between them. 

Source: Addaddie/ Reddit

Those grooves are not rubber and they don’t belong on the road. Would you believe us if we said that this object could play music?


It’s a Vinyl Record!

Now that you know what this is it’s easier to imagine that this zoomed in image is a vinyl record. Those grooves are where the needle fits so you can listen to beautiful music the way it was meant to be heard!

Source: Bree/ Pinterest

This made us realize that we should go clean our own collection because look at all those little dust particles hanging out on the record. It probably looks clean to the naked eye but up close we can see all that gunk! 


Looking Straight On

Take a real hard look at this one and see if you can figure out what it could possibly be. 

Source: Subtyler/ Reddit

We thought it resembled a cannonball in a cannon, ready to shoot. But as we’ve learned, things are rarely as they appear.


A Ball Point Pen

Who knew the object we use to write could look so menacing up close and personal? The tip of a pen seems so sharp when we use it in our everyday lives.

Source: Jenniferjohansson/ Pinterest

Here it looks rather dull and it’s difficult to imagine the thin little lines we can make with it. You can even see the ink that has dried up around the tip of the pen. No cannons here.


Smiles All Around

Whatever this photo is, we sure know it’s happy. Look at all those smiley faces looking back at us. 

Source: Ivvidellybellyivvi/ Reddit

This object is living, but it’s not an animal or an insect. What else could it be? Here’s a hint: The color gives it away.


It's Happy Grass

This is a blade of grass! Who knew that grass was so happy? It must have gotten lots of sun and water to be beaming like it is. Interestingly, people have investigated why lots of objects seem to have smiley faces in them.

Source: realsimple/ Pinterest

It’s a phenomenon called pareidolia, which basically explains that we can see faces in almost anything. Regardless, it makes us happy to think that grass is happy as well.


Something Unexpected This Way Comes

This object under a microscope looks nothing like it does when it’s out there living. Yes, technically this object is living so we’ll let that be a hint to you.

Source: Gregory S. Paulson/ Getty Images

Also, you wouldn’t be able to tell from this picture but this object smells really nice as well. Perhaps you’re hoping to get one from your significant other this Valentine’s Day. Are we giving too much away?


It’s a Rose

We couldn’t believe it either, but this is indeed a rose petal under a microscope. Those circular shapes in the image are the glands of the petal.

Source: Kango/ Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard to imagine that everything we see each day can be broken down into something pretty strange-looking, just like this. Next time you see a rose you might think of this instead of that pretty flower we’re all used to.


Scribble Art?

While this might look like something your kid drew as an art project, it is far from it. We can almost guarantee that all (or most) of us have a few of these laying around in the corners of our homes.

Source: Dwaugh/ Getty Images

However, we do our best to keep them out as much as possible. No, this isn’t string or hair, although those are pretty keen guesses.


Dust Bunnies

This is, in fact, a dust bunny. When you get up close and personal with dust, it appears to look something like a bunch of worms all twisted and tangled.

Source: Stilfehler/ Wikimedia Commons

It’s fascinating that those pesky dust bunnies that always seem to appear around the house are actually kind of works of art under the microscope. Nonetheless, we still prefer to keep them out of the house so they stop making us sneeze!


We Know What You’re Thinking

We can probably guess what your first thought is when you take a look at this object under the microscope. It appears to be ice cubes, right? Wrong.

Source: Dzika_Mrowka/ Getty Images

These are not ice cubes but if we were to give you a helpful hint, we might tell you that it is found in the kitchen. Is anyone having a craving for something sweet?


Brown Sugar, Anyone?

Those “ice cubes” are actually little tiny brown sugar particles. I suppose it makes sense if you think about it. If you’ve ever taken a really close look at brown sugar you’ll notice they’re really tiny crystal-like structures.

Source: Romain Behar/ Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps if they were a little closer to the color we see when we look at brown sugar, we could have guessed this one. This is making us want to bake something tasty!


Not What It Seems

As we’ve seen here today things are not always what they seem and this is another perfect example. In fact, this one grosses us out a little.

Source: Gregory S. Paulson/ Getty Images

This is an object we use multiple times a day (at least we should) and we put it in our mouths! But looking at it this close up is making us question things a bit… Our dentist wouldn’t be too happy to hear that.


A Toothbrush

This is a toothbrush! You might notice now that the yellow vertical structures are gathered together in circles . These are the brussels of your toothbrush.

Source: Guasanchennai/ Wikimedia Commons

The structure resembles the hair we saw earlier in that it has a flaky-looking consistency. Those tiny bristles look much taller here in this image than they do on our tiny toothbrush.


Speaking of Dental Care

Speaking of things that your dentist hopes you use everyday, this is another object that we use to take care of our oral health. Ideally, you use it everyday but most of us probably could be better about this habit if we’re honest.

Source: Gregory S. Paulson/ Getty Images

From the looks of this object under the microscope, we’re surprised it’s used to clean anything, let alone our mouths!


Dental Floss

Shockingly, this is what dental floss looks like really zoomed in. You’d have no idea that this is the very thing that gets the corn out from in between your chompers. 

Source: Stilfehler/ Wikimedia Commons

That thin piece of white floss looks something like a piece of wood up close and personal. We prefer the look of it outside of the microscope, thank you very much. To be honest, this photo doesn’t really encourage us to floss more!


What Could It Be?

We hate to tell you this but this is actually a delicious and healthy snack when put under a microscope. Yes, we actually eat this thing! 

Source: Louise Docker Sydney Australia/ Getty Images

Now this green blob might look more like an alien than a snack. We’ll give you hint: You might find this growing in your garden and it’s not green. Rather, this tasty vegetable is famously orange.


A Carrot

Unbelievably, this is what a carrot looks like under a microscope. You probably would have never guessed in a million years that carrots were bubbly and bumpy like this, but it’s true!

Source: Stephen Asusmus/ Wikimedia Commons

We hope we haven’t ruined carrots for you with this image. Just remember, they’re still tasty, just a little funky looking under the scope!


It’s Not a Fingerprint

When we first looked at this picture we were sure that we were looking at a human fingerprint/ Anyone that’s ever taken a  look at the pads of their fingers probably recognized this photo as that as well!

Source: Gregory S. Paulson/ Getty Images

The ridges and lines might look like your finger, but they are far from it. This is a part of an animal that lives in the water. Have we said too much?


If You Guessed Fish Scale…

Interestingly, fish scales look almost identical to human fingerprints under the microscope. Scientists aren’t really sure why. It might just be one of nature’s many mysteries.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

We’d be willing to bet that if you put a few fingerprints side by side a few fish scales under the microscope we’d be hard pressed to tell the difference!


Is That Water?

While you may first look at this image and think many things, it’s probably not what you would expect. At first, we thought it looks a bit similar to what water may appear extra-zoomed in and all of the microscopic pathways. 

Source: depositphotos

But, it could also be something else. It may also resemble some sort of animal skin. It’s pretty hard to pinpoint what exactly it may be, which is why we guessed. Do you think you know what this is?


Cellulose Acetate Fibers

Ok, we were very off! This close-up image is of fibers from cellulose acetate. Cellulose acetate is what makes up analog films, cigarette filters, glasses, textiles, and lots of other things. In this example, we provided a photo of a film strip. Cellulose acetate is used as a plastic film base for photography and filmmaking. 

Source: Space Frontiers/ Getty Images

Cellulose acetate is nonirritant, heat resistant, and non-toxic. It’s derived from renewable resources (such as wood and pulp) offering unique properties. This polymer is biodegradable, naturally sourced, and eco-friendly. 


Some Sort Of Outer Space Creature?

Upon first glance, this little fella looks like something from another planet. It’s transparent, tiny, and a bit unsettling. But, also, cute in a weird way. 

Source: 5-Minute Crafts_/YouTube

In fact, we wouldn’t be totally surprised if it was an alien-like specimen that somehow made its way onto Earth. But, what is this thing clinging onto? That’s where the real mystery lies! So, take a stab at guessing – you could be closer than you think to the real answer. Or, far from it. 


It’s Dog Hair

Well, were you correct?! It’s a tick or flea clinging onto a dog’s singular hair. This guy is hanging on for dear life in this dog’s coat. Better bring him to the vet quickly or apply some Advantage in their fur.

Source: Pixabay

What’s the difference between a tick and a flea? Ticks are much larger than fleas and have eight legs instead of six. Also, their piercing mouthparts allow them to inject saliva into the animal’s skin. A flea, on the other hand, is a tinier and wingless insect that feeds off the animal’s blood. 


A Beautiful And Colorful Painting?

Wow, this is a sight to behold! Whatever it is – a painting, a piece of remarkable marble, or some kind of unique pattern – it sure is mesmerizing and beautiful. All of the purples, pinks, and reds, make it pop. 

Source: dreamstime

We want this hung up in our houses, as it definitely seems like something that could be a work of art. If you’re able to guess what this is, then you deserve a prize and high praise. Any guesses? It’s probably not what you were thinking at all. 


Cells Of Fish Skin

Did you get it right? These are fish cells…but not ordinary ones. It appears as though they’ve been damaged by chemicals. It’s pretty incredible and mind-altering how different a cell appears under a microscope from what the human eye sees. 

Source: iStock

Things under a microscope truly do look bizarre, yet intriguing. We feel really bad for the fish, though. And, although this sight is pretty to look at, this poor fish probably wasn’t doing so well after being exposed to harmful chemicals. 


The Surface Of An Alien Planet?

We are completely captivated by whatever this object is! It truly looks like the otherworldly and detailed surface of the planet where extraterrestrials live. 

Source: dreamstime

It doesn’t resemble something from this planet, but we have another guess as to what this could be. Is it a shell’s surface? Shells can be quite intricate and complex in their appearance. They can also be very colorful. Are you anywhere close to the right answer? We’d get it if you were stumped on this one. 


It’s A Slab Of Roman Concrete

Were you able to successfully get the right answer? It’s alright if you didn’t because it could have been an array of things. Well, it’s a 2,000-year-old slab of ancient Roman concrete – if you can believe it! 

Source: depositphotos

While it may not seem that exciting, it’s a rather beautiful sight. This Roman concrete slab does look like a magical galaxy or universe, though. If you have ever been to Rome inside one of the churches there, you will see remarkable concrete slabs like the one above. 


Is This Underwater Coral?

Let your imagination run wild with this one. Is it a fruit? Underwater coral? The inside of a flower? The possibilities are endless, but it’s only one thing. 

Source: 5-Minute Crafts_ YouTube

What do you think it could be? It’s certainly colorful and interesting to look at. The thing it actually is will probably be far from your original guess, unless you impress us and get it right. Hmm…let’s see if you can guess what it is under this microscope. 


Amazingly, It’s A Paint Brush

Was a paint brush your final answer? Bravo if it was. The magnified image above was of the ends of paint brush. This one was tricky, considering it really didn’t seem like it could have been a brush of any kind, but looks can be deceiving. 

Source: depositphotos

We were really convinced that it was something you could only find underwater. Well, now you can carry on with your day knowing what a paint brush’s end looks like under a microscope! You’re welcome. 


Take A Wild Guess!

Ok, this looks like a piece of meat or even a painting. What about a unique rug or pattern? Sigh – we are stumped. What do you think it is?

Source: dreamstime

A magnified version of whatever this random thing is has us questioning how much we truly know about anything. Luckily, we will give you a hint – it’s actually on a human. It’s essential and keeps us warm…and we can’t exist without it. Oops, was that too much information? Let’s find out. 


Human Skin

Yes! It’s our very own skin and this is what it looks like with sweat glands. Were you fooled or spot on with your guess? This is pretty gnarly looking. 


Did you know that skin is an organ? It’s comprised of water, minerals, fats, and proteins. Genuinely, this answer could have gone any other way. But, considering the magnified image is complex and has different colors, it make sense it’s a vital part of our external body. How cool. 


Get Creative With This One

We’re perplexed. What is this shiny, thick-looking substance? And, what is that big bump? This definitely looks like something you wouldn’t want to get stuck in because you will undoubtedly sink. 

Source: 5-Minute Crafts/ YouTube

Is it bad that this gooey-substance looks delectable? It’s giving off creamy and, perhaps, sweet vibes. Oh – did we just give it all away? Let’s see if you are correct or, at least, if you were close. Perhaps, your best guess is the right one. 


It’s A Yummy Chocolate Bar!

If you’ve ever been curious as to what a chocolate bar looks like magnified, here it is. This is a chocolate bar in all of its tasty glory. Admittedly, it’s kind of gross, but now that we know it’s chocolate, we want it.

Source: David Izquierdo_ 500px Plus/ Getty Images

Calling all lovers of sweets and chocolate. While chocolate is not the healthiest thing you could consume, dark chocolate possesses many health benefits. It can improve blood flow and blood pressure, may reduce heart disease risk, and it’s also very nutritious and full of antioxidants.