Thursday, July 18, 2024
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A beacon in the desert

AP – A strange monolith found jutting out of the rocks in a remote mountain range near Las Vegas, United States has been taken down by authorities.

How it got there is still unsolved.

“It remains unknown how the item got to its location or who might be responsible,” Las Vegas police said on Friday in a series of posts on X announcing the removal of the glimmering, six-foot-four prism.

Its discovery over the weekend, and quick removal because of public safety and environmental concerns, revived a pandemic-era mystery that captured the public’s imagination when shiny monoliths evoking the object that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey began to appear around the globe.

Members of the Las Vegas police search and rescue team found the object near Gass Peak, part of the vast Desert National Wildlife Refuge where bighorn sheep and desert tortoises can be found roaming. It was the latest discovery in a series of mysterious columns that have popped up since at least 2020.

Photos show the monolith before and after its removal in Las Vegas, United States. PHOTOS: AP

In November of that year, a similar metal monolith was found deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah’s red-rock desert. Then came sightings in Romania, central California, New Mexico and on the famed Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

All of them disappeared as quickly as they popped up, adding to the lore.

“This thing is not from another world,” Lieutenant Nick Street of Utah’s Department of Public Safety said at the time. The Utah monolith, believed to be the first in the series, had been embedded in the rock in an area so remote that officials didn’t immediately reveal its location for fear of people getting lost or stranded while trying to find it.

But Internet sleuths quickly found the coordinates, and hordes of curious tourists eager to see and touch the otherworldly object arrived, flattening plants with their cars and leaving behind human waste in the bathroom-free backcountry.

Authorities said the same concerns led them to tear down the latest monolith on Thursday. It was illegally installed on federal land established to protect bighorn sheep and is home to rare plants and desert tortoises.