IN REMOTE SOUTHERN UTAH — Researchers surveying bighorn sheep in the rugged wilderness of southern Utah discovered a mysterious metal monolith erected amid the barren rocky landscape.
Members of Utah’s division of wildlife were riding aboard a department of public safety chopper when they spotted the shining structure among the arid red-rock landscape.
The structure, which stands about 12 feet tall, appeared to be planted in the ground, officials said.
“During the counts we came across this, in the middle of nowhere, buried deep in the rock. Inquiring minds want to know, what the heck is it? Anyone?” the public safety department posted on Instagram.
The helicopter pilot, Bret Hutchings, told local news channel KSL-TV: “That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying.”
Hutchings was helping wildlife resource officers count bighorn sheep in the south of the state.
“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” Hutchings said. “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!’”
Hutchings said the object looked manmade and appeared to have been firmly planted in the ground, not dropped from the sky.
“I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings said.
The monolith and its setting resembled a famous scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, in which a group of apes encounter a giant slab.
Bighorn sheep live in some of Utah’s most rugged and remote areas and survive in hostile climate conditions. Fearing amateur explorers might get stuck in the wilderness while seeking out the monolith, the flight crew have not revealed its exact location.