While workers from the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau were conducting a helicopter count of bighorn sheep in remote Red Rock County, Utah, earlier this week they discovered a large metal monolith of unknown origin.
People immediately noted the similarities between this object and the mysterious monolith in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, planted by an unknown alien species in order to shift human evolution forward a notch.
Everyone keep an eye on the monkeys for a while, we have enough problems to deal with as it is.
Theories of what it is and where it comes from abound, from the probable but disappointing – it's an impressive but obscure art installation, given how remote it is – to the not at all likely idea that it's actually a monolith sent by aliens who are clearly massive Stanley Kubrick fans.
There are always people who will go that little bit further to find out which. A group of Redditors set up a subreddit r/FindTheMonolith in order to do just that, and then go to the monolith and sit on it.
In their attempt to have a bit of a squat on a mysterious obelisk in the desert, Redditors have managed to pick up a fair amount of information on it, not just how it feels on the buttcheeks. The first task was to locate the coordinates on Google Maps. This was found pretty quickly, despite needing to painstakingly scour the landscape, until one user finally noticed a shadow.
Now armed with the co-ordinates, Redditors and other Internet sleuths began looking back through Google Maps to see when it first appeared, eventually discovering that the big hunk of metal was installed sometime after August 2015 and before October 2016.
Somewhat pleasingly for 2001: A Space Odyssey fans, this isn't too long before a group of monkeys entered the Stone Age.
When people started visiting the monolith, they took a closer look at how it was made, as well as taking awesome photographs.
"It is made of 1/8th sheet steel that is riveted on the seams," Reddit user thewierdturnpro wrote on Reddit. "There is an amount of insulation inside dampening when you strike it. There is epoxy along the base."
We don't want to be a downer, but we doubt aliens would get down here and leave a monolith that could easily be made by humans from the days we began riveting steel. It is likely either an art installation or a fitting tribute from a Kubrick fan.
As for who put it there, one Twitter user believes they have solved the mystery, with some fairly compelling evidence to back it up.
They shared a screenshot of the Instagram page of photographer Eliot Lee Hazel. The "builder" of the monoliths tagged in the Instagram photos, the tweeter claims, lives in Utah relatively near where the new monolith was found. He and the agency the photographer worked with appear to have deleted posts showcasing similar artworks, though this of course could be an unrelated social media clear up.
"But to what I have found, it’s simply just an art piece that was forgotten in the desert after the photoshoot happened," they concluded.
"Or I’m wrong and it’s aliens. I’ll let you be the judge."