What started as routine wildlife assistance took an extraterrestrial turn for Utah's Department of Public Safety after officers stumbled upon a mysterious monolith in the middle of rural Utah.
Officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety's Aero Bureau were flying by helicopter last Wednesday, helping the Division of Wildlife Resources count bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, when they spotted something that seemed right out of "2001: A Space Odyssey."
"One of the biologists ... spotted it, and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it," pilot Bret Hutchings told CNN affiliate KSL. "He was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!' And I was like, 'What.' And he's like, 'There's this thing back there -- we've got to go look at it!'"
And there it was -- in the middle of the red rock was a shiny, silver metal monolith sticking out of the ground. Hutchings guessed it was "between 10 and 12 feet high." It didn't look like it was randomly dropped to the ground, he told KSL, but rather it looked like it had been planted.
"We were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then the rest of us make a run for it," Hutchings said.
Still, Hutchings said he thinks it was most likely placed there by an artist rather than an alien.
"I'm assuming it's some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big ("2001: A Space Odyssey") fan," he said, referencing a scene in the 1968 film where a black monolith appears.
Still, it is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on public lands "no matter what planet you're from," said Utah DPS in a statement released Monday.
The location of the monolith is not being disclosed, and it is not yet clear who -- or what -- put the monolith there, DPS said.
As of Monday, the Bureau of Land Management will be deciding whether further investigation is needed.
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