At the foot of a barren canyon in Utah’s Red Rock Country, a team of bighorn sheep by helicopter spotted something strange and landed for a closer look.
It was not a sheep.
It was a three-sided metal monolith, about 10 to 12 feet tall, planted firmly in the ground with no clear sign of where it came from or why it was there. The Utah Department of Public Safety, revealing its existence to the world on Monday, said the team found the “unusual object” last week in southeastern Utah, during a investigation with the national wildlife agency.
“During this mission, they spotted an unusual object and landed nearby to investigate further,” the department said in a statement. “The crew said there was no clear indication of who could have installed the monolith there.”
The object was found in a remote area that Aaron Bott, a spokesperson for the Utah Wildlife Division, described as rugged and very rocky, with many canyons and potential dangers. “It’s a difficult place to access by vehicle and on foot,” he says.
“We fly low enough for these surveys so that we can identify the gender of the sheep, and while we were doing this, we found this strange metallic monolith in the middle of the desert,” he says. He described the object as an “anomaly”, but added that it was “not too rare to find strange things that people did in the desert”.
In photos and videos taken by a member of the team and published by the department, the investigative team can be seen descending into the alcove towards the object. “OK, intrepid explorers descend to investigate the alien lifeform,” a member of the crew jokes in one of the videos. “Who does this stuff?”
“It’s pointed right at the one crack,” another crew member said, pointing to a narrow canyon in the red rock formation. “Yeah,” the first man answers. “It’s just wild.”
Helicopter pilot Bret Hutchings told the local news station KSL TV as the crew approached, “we were kind of joking that if one of us suddenly disappears, then I guess the rest of us are making a run for it.”
But Mr Hutchings said it was probably an art installation. “I guess he’s, you know, a new wave artist or something, or someone who was just a huge fan of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’,” he said, referring to the Stanley Kubrick film in which a dull black plaque is discovered by curious and increasingly restless primates.
“I have to admit, this is the strangest thing I have encountered in all these years of flying,” he added.
As Utah officials shared photos of the find, many other observers noticed the similarity, particularly in a photo showing a crew member who had climbed onto the shoulders of another to gaze at the summit of the monolith.
On Facebook, the Utah Highway Patrol shared photos of the sheep and the object, asking the public for their thoughts. “During the count they stumbled upon this (sheet of metal?), Buried in the middle of nowhere… what do you think it is? says the legend. He added emojis of an alien and a shrugging person.
Respondents had suggestions: a “resonance deflector”, “visual pollution”, “good metal”. Some have theorized, vaguely, that it was a satellite beacon. Others joked that it was a Wi-Fi router. Some said it was a leftover movie prop – Red Rock Country served as the backdrop for the “Indiana Jones” movies , “Star Trek” and “Mission Impossible”. (Two Utah film associations did not respond to questions about this possibility.)
But authorities were convinced that “this is someone’s art installation, or an attempt at it,” said Lt. Nick Street, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety. “Maybe they had another idea in mind.”
He said the monolith appeared to be stainless steel, assembled “with artificial rivets” and sunk into the rock, although the depth was a mystery.
“Someone took the time to use some type of concrete cutting tool or something to really dig, almost into the exact shape of the object, and fit it in really well,” he said. he declares. “It’s weird. There are roads nearby, but hauling the materials to cut the rock and haul the metal, which is over 12 feet tall in sections – doing it all in this remote location is really interesting.
Lt. Street added that officials have no idea how long the monolith will last, saying “As far as we know it has been installed since the 1940s and 1950s.”
Authorities refused to disclose the exact location of the monolith, saying attempts to visit it could be dangerous. “If individuals attempt to visit the area, there is a significant possibility that they will be stranded and require assistance,” the Ministry of Public Security said.
But the department said the monolith was on federally managed land – Utah owns millions of acres of it – saying, “It is illegal to install structures or artwork without permission. on public lands managed by the federal government, no matter what planet you are from.
Lt. Street said the Bureau of Land Management would determine whether to investigate further or remove the monolith, for example if it is found to be affecting wildlife. The office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
As for the team’s initial mission? It was a success, said Mr. Bott, the wildlife manager. “The sheep are doing well,” he says. “It’s a robust population.”