Aliens are among us – at least if you believe the tabloids.
When Google Maps isn’t being used to get us from A to B (or debunk flat-Earthers, or solve murder mysteries in far-flung nations), it’s being trawled by conspiracy theorists looking for proof of paranormal phenomena.
The latest, doing all the usual rounds, shows a “mysterious object” in the sky over Florida – just outside the Bermuda Triangle, you know!
“Even when zoomed in, it's hard to define exactly what the object is,” reports The Sun’s intrepid, if unnamed, reporter.
Move one step away, and the object completely disappears.
“Of course, a UFO might also avoid sticking around for too long,” explains The Sun, “so we may never know.”
So what is this strange sighting? Have aliens really popped down to Earth just to experience Florida’s natural beauty, photobomb an extremely obscure single set of coordinates, and star in a British tabloid more than seven years later?
Let’s have a look at the evidence.
Did you spot it?
Look, we hate to be the ones to break it to you, but there’s never been any credible evidence that aliens have visited Earth. Reasons offered as to why range from “they were too tiny for us to notice” to “they’re trapped on their own planets under an impenetrable barrier of ice” to “we accidentally wiped them out before they could get here”, but the point is the same: those “alien visitations” you hear about are more likely to be exotic animals, unnerving physiological phenomena, or the remains of an anonymous medical tragedy than genuine little green men.
Even if you’re a true believer in extra-terrestrial drop-ins, Florida is bizarrely lacking in alien sightings. Despite the Sunshine State’s reputation for the weird and wacky, you’re actually less likely to spot a UFO there than in any other state.
The chance that Google Maps really did catch an alien in a National Park west of Miami is really, really slim, is what we’re saying. Florida, like the rest of the world, just doesn’t have aliens.
What Florida does have, however, is butterflies – in particular, the Palamedes swallowtail. And as spotted by the good people at Science Alert, the “mysterious object” bears more than a passing resemblance to this fluttering insect.
“A fast-moving butterfly caught in a single shot on Google Street View could easily be the explanation for this mystery,” The Sun eventually admits, noting that Reddit users have also pointed out the “alien"'s lepidopteran origin.
“This theory is strengthened by the fact that moving one step away on Street View completely removes the object – which is exactly what would happen if the object was a butterfly flying past,” it continues.
So there we have it. A flying object certainly, but unidentified? Not so much.