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What the Heck Is This?

Patterns in Nature can sometimes be highly recognizable. But when you zoom in too close, they can be difficult to grasp. This is one of those.

If the photo had been cropped just a bit larger, it would have been pretty easy to guess what this is. But there it is, so what's your best guess?

No hints today. Anyone who can guess this one gets three extra Heck bonus points, whatever those are. See the full-size image below…

It's a cheetah, apparently dozing, in Kruger National Park, South Africa. You wouldn't guess just by looking at the sedentary creature that it is the fastest animal on land, running at up to 70 mph when it needs to (what's the world's fastest swimmer?). Cheetahs often rest in trees. Their spotted coats serve as camouflage in the tall, dry grass of the African plain, say photographers Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher.

A cheetah in a tree in Kruger National Park, South Africa. (Image credit: Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher)

Got a strange or interesting photo related to science, nature or technology? What the Heck, send it to me, and maybe I'll use it.

Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at Space.com starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.