KEY POINTS

  • The object bears no resemblance to a Banksy piece
  • Utah authorities found the structure while surveying big horn sheep
  • One extraterrestrial expert said these finds aren’t all that rare

Is it a Banksy? Is it a message from space aliens? The twitterati are abuzz over the mysterious obelisk found in a remote Utah desert.

The Utah Department of Public Safety said its pilots uncovered the strange object while surveying big horn sheep with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“While on this mission, they spotted an unusual object and landed nearby to investigate further,” a statement from Monday read. “The crew members found a metal monolith installed in the ground in a remote area of red rock.”

Utah officials find strange metal object while surveying sheep. Utah officials find strange metal object while surveying sheep. Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety

So what is it? Some of the sleuths on Twitter are speculating.

Banksy, an anonymous street artist who has been active since the 1990s, is more known for his graffiti-like pieces than sculptures. The Italian government in October returned a stolen Banksy piece to its French counterparts after his tribute to victims of a 2015 terrorist attack in Paris was uncovered in the Mediterranean country.

A structure measuring some 10 feet high was found in a remote part of the Utah desert. A structure measuring some 10 feet high was found in a remote part of the Utah desert. Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety

Sensing a metallic monolith was not in Banksy’s repertoire, others online retorted against the theories.

The object bears a striking resemblance to a similar structure depicted in Stanley Kubrik’s film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," however, the object has been determined to be manmade.

Jason Wright, an astrophysics professor at Pennsylvania State University and the director of its Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center, told CNN findings like these are relatively common.

"This monolith is clearly the sort of thing humans can (and do!) make, in a place where humans go," he said. "Indeed, desert art is common in the American Southwest, so I don't see any reason to think it's anything other than that."