A mysterious slab of metal stands silently in the desert, leaving Earth’s primates puzzled.
That’s how the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey begins. It’s also the way things are playing out in Utah in 2020, after biologists made a baffling discovery in the state’s southern desert.
State wildlife officials say they were counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter last Wednesday when they stumbled upon a mysterious slab of metal sticking up out of the rock. The object stood 3-3.7 metres tall and appeared to be completely solid and undecorated, according to a crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Its true origin is unknown.
“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” helicopter pilot Bret Hutchings told Utah broadcaster KSLTV.
Hutchings and the crew of biologists touched down nearby and ventured down into a red-rock cove to examine the object up close.
Video shows it’s a solid piece of metal standing as tall as two humans.
“The intrepid explorers go down to investigate the alien life form,” one crew member said with a chuckle, in video they later provided to KSLTV.
Hutchings says the group had some fun with the discovery, though they still don’t know exactly what they’re dealing with.
— Andrew Adams (@AndrewAdamsKSL) November 21, 2020
“We were joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, I guess the rest of us make a run for it,” Hutchings said.
The object appeared to have been planted in place and likely did not fall into position from above, Hutchings said.
State officials did not indicate exactly where they found the monolith because it was in a remote area that is dangerous for hikers. They say they’d rather not inspire amateur adventurers to go out looking for it in hopes of solving the mystery.
“That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying,” Hutchings said.
He added that the object is probably an art installation or a tribute to Kubrick’s film.
The opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey depicts a race of ape-like human ancestors who swarm over a mysterious slab of metal that suddenly appears in their rocky home. One of the apes learns how to use tools a short time after the object appears.
No members of the helicopter crew have reported any incredible scientific discoveries to date, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about the object’s origin.
The Utah Highway Patrol encouraged followers to guess about the object’s purpose, triggering a slew of guesses about aliens, wormholes, interdimensional portals and Kubrick’s film.
Many users called for the object to be left alone, if only to avoid any further misfortunes during a historically weird 2020.
“If I were y’all I’d wait until at least 2021, maybe 2022 for good measure, before touching it,” one user wrote.
“PUT IT BACK!” another user wrote. “We’ve had enough surprises this year.”
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