This is a closeup of a section of an ant's face.
But this closeup does not show all the facial features of the ant, including its eyes.
No, this photograph isn’t from a horror movie, nor is it some artistic rendering of an alien, nor is it an orc. The viral photograph below is a real life close-up shot of an ant's facial features.
Tweeted by filmmaker Rebekah McKendry, it shows “the very real face of an ant” with its antennae visible.
This is indeed a real photograph of a closeup of an ant's features by Lithuanian photographer Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, and it was a runner-up as an “Image of Distinction” in Nikon’s 2022 Photomicrography Competition. The ant in question belongs to the genus Camponotus or “carpenter ant.” You can see more of Kavaliauskas' photographs here, where he has taken more close-ups of insects and other creatures.
The top place went to an image of an embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko, awarded to Grigorii Timin, under the supervision of Michel Milinkovitch at the University of Geneva.
The red dots are not the ant's actual eyes, the real eyes are farther back on the insect's head as pointed out by IFL Science. This is a closeup of a section of the ant's face but not the full face. In a text message, Kavaliauskas told us, "This is just the front part of the portrait [...] the eyes are already in the shadow area. [...] if the eyes are illuminated, all the mystery disappears and the photograph appears ordinary and uninteresting."
You can check out the full list of winners and runners up in the Nikon Small World gallery here.