This photograph is a tough one. Are you up to the challenge? Can you find the camouflaged mountain lion in this viral photo?

Few things can get people riled up like a photo with something “hidden”. Everyone likes to think they can easily spot the thing that nobody else seems to see.

This viral image shows the top of an elk’s back. Probably feeding, the elk has its head pointed down and out of frame. Behind the elk, we see New Mexico’s characteristic slabs and chips of rock set against juniper shrubs and small trees.

The vegetation is pretty dense, so it seems as though the elk is alone in nature. But is it?

Why Can’t You See The camouflaged Mountain Lion?

This photo was taken as part of a monitoring project looking at the success of restoring arroyos at Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge.

Give yourself a few minutes to scan the picture. We promise there really is one. This isn’t one of those tasks meant to waste your time like going to the garage to find a “left-handed shovel” or something.

The mountain lion is there. Hidden in plain view. You’ve definitely seen it already, even if your brain hasn’t recognized it as a big cat.

This picture illuminates the fact that a mountain lion, one of the apex predators of North America, can literally be in your face without you noticing. It’s a terrifying realization, especially if you’re someone who hikes regularly or likes to visit national parks.

The picture takes on a whole new mood when you spot it.

Mountain Lions and Elks: What You Should Know

At first glance, you might be amazed by the image of the elk because, well, they’re notoriously difficult to spot! Elk used to exist throughout most of upper North America, but the bulk of their population now lives along the Rocky Mountain Range.

This is also where mountain lions are most crowded, although they’re distributed more widely than elk. Both species share the same environments partially because mountain lions feed on elk.

How are these massive cats able to stalk and surprise elk effectively? They’re extremely well camouflaged. They also happen to be very intelligent.

The New Mexican environment is an absolutely perfect place for a full-grown mountain lion to hide in plain sight. The color of the rocks matches the lion’s fur, and even the bright points of rock illuminated by the sun share the hue of the lion’s white face.

An elk, which doesn’t see the full spectrum of colors, might have an incredibly difficult time spotting a mountain lion perching in the shadows.

The only reason that someone at the Rio Mora Wildlife Refuge noticed the cat in the first place was the fact that the following trail cam photos caught the cat emerging and following the elk.

Here’s Where The Camouflaged Mountain Lion Hides

You can see the mountain lion’s face directly to the left of the short tree on the right side of the frame. Just above the large rock to the immediate right of the elk’s behind.

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