With menacing eyes and devilish grins, you’d be forgiven for assuming these were just aliens from a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster.
But believe it or not, they are not fake.
Instead, they are real MRI scans of human babies in the womb.
Delirious social media users have joked about their horror at seeing the nightmare-inducing snaps, originally posted in 2021.
However, similar scans have resurfaced on social media this week, sparking new comments online about the strange sights.
The MRI image was shared last week by Twitter user @CaptKarnstein. Similar images have been confirmed as legitimate and published by Harvard University papers
Parents are not offered an MRI regularly during their pregnancy and will typically only have the scan if there are concerns about the child’s growth and development
MRI scans are different from ultrasound. They are only needed if a mother or unborn baby needs one for medical reasons.
For example, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital, they can help define and detect neck, chest, abdominal and spinal malformations in fetuses.
However, when used during pregnancy, MRIs can produce a very lifelike picture of their baby.
The detailed black and white images burst the bubble of many parents who blindly believe their little toddler will be thoroughly adorable.
Dozens of fetal MRI scans were shared on Twitter in 2021 after being unearthed from a Harvard Medical School supported project.
One Twitter user said MRIs are discouraged during pregnancy because “people would realize they are incubating nightmare demons and would rightfully be terrified.”
An MRI machine uses and sends magnetism and radio frequency waves into the mother’s stomach to produce these disturbing images of unborn babies
According to hundreds of social media users, MRI images of babies generally don’t get the same attention on social media as ultrasounds because the highly detailed images can appear a bit demonic
While getting an MRI during pregnancy can be a beautiful and memorable moment to cherish, these chilling images seem to make people believe in the devil
Social media users also scoffed at the shocking photos, claiming they would give them “nightmares.”
While some suggest they are traumatized by seeing such uncomfortable images, others seem to find them comical.
The “horrific” photos were later recirculated on Reddit, where users thought the fetus was an alien.
One user compared an image to a Tim Burton alien movie, while others suggested it was the devil’s spawn.
The posts went viral and received hundreds of thousands of likes.
This led to an investigation by fact-check website Snopes, which probed whether the images were genuine.
Some social media users were not ready to see the reality of pregnancy, claiming the images would give them bad dreams
Some took the post more lightly, understanding that the unborn child will not look so scary when the mother has given birth
Some users compared the photos to a 1996 American science fiction film directed by Tim Burton
They confirmed the pictures were real and spoke to a University of Wisconsin researcher who uses MRI technology to study age-related brain changes.
He said the MRI results appear authentic and confirmed that at least two images in the tweet had previously been shared by Harvard researchers.
MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
The eyes and brain have a high ‘signal’ – a radio wave – which makes them appear brighter and stand out on the scan.
Other parts of the body give off lower levels and therefore appear darker.