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Here’s Why This Forest Looks Like It’s ‘Breathing’ in That Viral Video Making the Internet Hyperventilate

2 minute read

No, it’s not special effects: this video really does capture a section of a forest in Quebec heaving to and fro, looking like it’s a living, breathing, sentient woodland. But no, there’s no mysterious magic at work here, even if it is suspiciously close to Halloween. No giants are asleep under those rocks; no spooky forest spirits are at play.

Instead, explains Mark Sirois of the Southern Quebec Severe Weather Network, it’s an understandable meteorological phenomenon in which the elements have come together just right to create this unusual scene, which was captured and shared around online in a video that went viral earlier this week.

“When you look at the trees in the background, it’s clear that the winds were very strong,” Sirois notes. “The forest floor seems to be moss covered, which leaves a lot of the root system of younger trees lodged in a loose medium. As the wind sways the trees, you get the roots lifting the floor. This gives the appearance of ‘breathing.'” Sirois’s explanation is corroborated by other meteorological experts who agree that there’s nothing amiss in the scene, despite its unsettling appearance.

So now we know: while forests do “breathe” in and release carbon dioxide and oxygen, the forest floor? Not so much a respirating organism. Blame that one on the wind.

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com