Footage of "breathing forest" leaves the internet baffled

Footage of "breathing forest" leaves the internet baffled

We all know that plants are alive in their own way. But it's not something that most people give more than a second thought to - unless, of course, you happen to be a fruitarian and only eat fruit that's naturally fallen from the tree. Otherwise, we happily feast on Mother Nature's bounty, climb her trees and generally enjoy everything that she has to offer.

Even in Middle Earth, when Pippin and Merry encountered Treebeard for the first time, they got a shock because no one expects plants and trees to breath and move in the way that humans and animals do. It's for this reason that footage of a forest seeming to move of its own accord has gone viral - simultaneously terrifying and fascinating the internet.

To see a forest "breathing", check out the video below: 

The footage was posted to Twitter by user @DannyDutch on October 20 and it has already been viewed a whopping four million times. It features a forest in Quebec, Canada and was captioned, "The ground looks like it's breathing in this Quebec forest."

Naturally, people had a lot to say about the unusual clip, with some Twitter users like @bullfrog637 questioning why it had even been recorded, writing, "I'm pretty sure I'd be running away and not taking a video. That's just not natural."

Credit: Twitter / @bullfrog637

Whereas Twitter user @RadioBethany remarked, "That's some Neverending Story sht right there [sic]."

Credit: Twitter / @RadioBethany

Incredibly, some people had witnessed similar phenomenon and @macmaster_d wrote, "In what passed for a serious storm in the U.K. I saw this happening with tree roots spreading under tarmac pavements."

"The trees flipped from side to side and the pavement went up and down making waves on the ground."

"It was really weird."

Credit: Twitter / @macmaster_d

Thankfully, others saw the funny side to the video and @SuzieqVayglo joked that she had also seen a "pregnant" tree. 

Credit: Twitter / @SuzieqVayglo

Meanwhile, @craig_dickson voiced what was likely on many people's minds writing, "WTF is going on here?"

Credit: Twitter / @craig_dickson

Well, despite the fact that this does look like a scene straight out of a fantasy movie like The Lord of the Rings or The Neverending Story, there is a logical explanation - and no, it's not an earthquake, despite that seeming like the only answer.

While it's no secret that plants can breathe (they are alive, after all), this is done using a process called photosynthesis where carbon dioxide is converted to oxygen, and it doesn't cause them to move in the way that humans and animals do when they're breathing.

The clip above, however, is far from the first video taken of a "breathing forest":

So what exactly is causing the movement in the video above? I hear you ask.

It's an optical illusion. Seriously. This unbelievable event can and does occur when the ground becomes saturated after heavy rainfall.

"During a rain and windstorm event the ground becomes saturated, 'loosening' the soil's cohesion with the roots as the wind is blowing on a tree's crown," Mark Vanderwouw, a certified arborist in Canada, told The Weather Network.

"The wind is trying to 'push' the trees over, and as the force is transferred to the roots, the ground begins to 'heave'. If the winds were strong enough and lasted long enough more roots would start to break and eventually some of the trees would topple."

Okay, so while this explanation isn't as cool as an otherworldly one, you have to admit that Mother Nature really is a force to be reckoned with. Just like when us humans pant when we're too hot, forests have their own ways of dealing with extreme weather.