Strangely come, strangely go. Only days after the world first became aware of it, a mysterious metal monolith in the remote desert of Utah's Red Rock Country has now seemingly vanished from sight.
The object made headlines last week, after authorities with the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the discovery of the strange, shiny pillar, standing around 3 metres (about 10 feet) tall. Its origins were completely unknown.
How long had it been there? Who put it there? Why? How? Were aliens involved? (Most likely not, but as with most of our questions about the mysterious monolith, nothing was ever very certain.)
In any case, the object – noticed during an aerial count of bighorn sheep in the region – was located in a very remote part of Utah's red sandstone wilds. Authorities did not disclose the precise location, urging the public not to try to find or visit it, for fear people might become stranded and require rescue.
There was also the matter of the monolith's rights to loiter on public lands at all, mysteriously or not.
"Although we can't comment on active investigations, the Bureau of Land Management would like to remind public land visitors that using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorisation is illegal, no matter what planet you are from," a statement explained.
While the authorities didn't want people to try to locate or visit the monolith, people did. One individual, David Surber, trekked to the object, and posted photos and videos of it on Instagram.
"Awesome journey out to the monolith today," Surber wrote. "Regardless of who built it or where it came from."
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Meanwhile, local residents and authorities were becoming concerned that visitors, intrigued by media attention, might damage Native American artefacts and archaeological sites trying to find the controversial installation.
"While the monolith has better craftsmanship than graffiti, this is still vandalism," the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts tweeted.
"It irreversibly altered the natural environment on public lands. While the monolith is interesting, we cannot condone vandalism of any type."
All of this played out in a matter of mere days, but the latest developments on the monolith might provide an ending of sorts to the object's strange tale.
"We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the 'monolith' has been removed from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands by an unknown party," the BLM explained in a statement issued on the weekend.
While it's not known who took the monolith or why, the BLM clarified that it did not remove the structure, which it considers to be private property – albeit private property parked on public land and cut directly into the desert bedrock, no less.
"IT'S GONE!" the DPS corroborated (in an Instagram post no longer available). "Almost as quickly as it appeared it has now disappeared."
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In its place, all that remains is the empty space where the monolith once stood, now marked by some rocks. Although now it's the disappearance, not the appearance, that has people guessing again whether aliens were involved.