Utah monolith: First people find mysterious object after frenzy of online sleuthing

Shweta Sharma
·2 min read
Expert claims to have answer to mysterious desert monolith (AP)
Expert claims to have answer to mysterious desert monolith (AP)

It took just 48 hours for the first member of the public to reach the bizarre metal monolith that was discovered by officials in the Utah desert.

Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the mysterious object from a helicopter on 18 November while counting sheep in the remote, Mars-like terrain of southeastern Utah.

In social media posts recounting their discovery, officials at first refused to reveal its precise location for fear of amateur adventurers getting lost in the remote area trying to see it for themselves.

However, this only added to the mystery of a post that sparked comparisons to the iconic sci-fi movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and wild theories of aliens and UFOs.

Guided by co-ordinates posted online by internet sleuths on Reddit, by Wednesday people were flocking to the structure and pictures of hikers posing with the 12ft monolith flooded social media.

Watch: Metal monolith discovered in Utah sparks mystery

David Surber, a 33-year-old former US Army infantry officer in Utah, wasted no time and drove six hours through the night following the co-ordinates posted online.

"I decided to go there first because I was drawn to the fact that this object had been there for five years, hidden in nature," said Mr Surber. "It was a good escape from all the negativity we've experienced in 2020."

Mr Surber, thrilled to see the marvel, was constantly updating his thousands of followers on Reddit - eager to share his other-worldly experience.

Soon, others started to join him at the site of the discovery, and those who could not bombarded him with comments. One asked him to bring a magnet in case “there is a secret door".

Tim Slane, the Reddit user who located the monolith through Google Earth and posted the co-ordinates, reveals he tracked the path of helicopter which first found the monolith and zeroed in where it went off-radar.

"I knew that once the location became public knowledge that people would visit the area," said Mr Slane. "I have received some angry messages for my revealing of the location. If I had not found it, someone else would likely have found it soon enough."

Despite its discovery by officials and now members of the public, the mystery of where it came from remains unsolved.

Keeping aside the wild theories about UFOs, the logical explanation by art experts is that it might be the work of late artist John McCracken.

However, neither the gallerist of the artist or anyone else has come forward to claim knowledge of its origin.

Watch: Utah Highway patrol speaks on the discovery of the monolith

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