From the New York Times:
At the base of a barren slot canyon in Utah’s Red Rock Country, a team that was counting bighorn sheep by helicopter spotted something odd and landed to take a closer look.
It was not a sheep.
It was a three-sided metal monolith, about 10 to 12 feet tall, planted firmly in the ground with no clear sign of where it came from or why it was there. The Utah Department of Public Safety, revealing its existence to the wider world on Monday, said the team found the “unusual object” last week in southeastern Utah, during a survey with the state wildlife agency.
“While on this mission, they spotted an unusual object and landed nearby to investigate further,” the department said in a statement. “The crew said there was no obvious indication of who might have put the monolith there.”
The object was found in a remote area that Aaron Bott, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, described as rugged and very rocky, with many canyons and potential hazards. “It’s a tough place to get to on vehicle and on foot,” he said.
“We fly pretty low for these surveys so we can identify the gender of the sheep, and while we were doing this we found this strange metallic monolith out in the middle of the desert,” he said. He described the object as an “anomaly,” but added that it was “not too uncommon to find weird things that people have been doing out in the desert.”
In photos and videos taken by a team member and released by the department, the survey crew can be seen descending into the alcove toward the object. “OK, the intrepid explorers go down to investigate the alien life form,” a crew member jokes in one of the videos. “Who does this kind of stuff?”
“It’s pointed right at the only crack,” another crew member says, gesturing at a narrow slot canyon in the red rock formation. “Yeah,” the first man replies. “That is just wild.”
The helicopter pilot, Bret Hutchings, told the local news station KSL-TV that as the crew approached, “we were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then I guess the rest of us make a run for it.”
But Mr. Hutchings said it was probably an art installation. “I’m assuming it is, you know, some new wave artist or something, or somebody that was just a big ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ fan,” he said, referring to the Stanley Kubrick film in which a matte black slab is discovered by curious, increasingly agitated primates.
“I have to admit, that’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all the years of flying,” he added.
If it sends out a high-pitched tone directed at Jupiter, brace yourself.