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Mysterious monolith that ‘appeared’ in desert may have been there for years

Updated June 20, 2024 - 7:21 am

A shimmering monolith seemed to appear in the Nevada desert this week, captivating the imaginations of hundreds of thousands and spurring news reports in the U.S. and abroad.

But the object may have been there for years.

According to Monolith Tracker, an online community that maintains a map of monolith appearances across the globe, the monolith spotted by the Metropolitan Police Department over the weekend was first identified in December 2020.

The tracker links to a YouTube video, posted on Dec. 14, 2020, showing a monolith that appears to be the same as the one Metro posted about on the platform X on Monday. Landscape features including bushes and rock formations around the monolith in the YouTube video are strikingly similar to the landscape features surrounding the monolith in the photos Metro posted.

‘We are aware of reports’

The user who posted the YouTube video said in the video description that he was on a helicopter tour just outside of Las Vegas when the pilot noticed the monolith on the edge of a mountain.

Metro wrote in its Monday X post that members of the department’s search and rescue team spotted the “MYSTERIOUS MONOLITH!” near Gass Peak. On Tuesday, police would not provide any details about the search and rescue team’s spotting of the monolith.

Metro’s post drew more than 300,000 views Wednesday.

Gass Peak, the highest peak in the Las Vegas Range, is roughly 16 miles north of downtown Las Vegas. The peak is located within the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We are aware of reports of an object possibly placed within the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and are working with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to gather more information,” Jackie D’Almeida, a public affairs specialist with the service, said Tuesday in response to a Las Vegas Review-Journal inquiry.

Monolith lore

According to Monolith Tracker, the “original” monolith was spotted on Nov. 18, 2020, by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists who were counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter in southwest Utah.

“What they saw next kick-started possibly the most ‘2020’ news story the world has ever seen,” the tracker says. “A large metal monolith, approximately 9.8 feet tall, was standing in the middle of the desert, miles from the nearest town of Moab, Utah.”

Since then, nearly 250 monoliths have appeared, according to the tracker. The objects are reminiscent of the extraterrestrial monoliths in the science fiction classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Monolith Tracker uses a classification system for monoliths because some are more mysterious than others.

The Gass Peak monolith is a “P-class” monolith, which means it’s a “possibly” significant monolith. A P-class monolith is well-made, but there might be some evidence that it’s “generally less” mysterious than a S-class monolith. According to Monolith Tracker’s classification system, an S-class, or “significant,” monolith is well-made and there are zero explanations of its appearance.

A monolith that appeared under the Fremont Street Experience canopy in December 2020 is a K-class monolith, which means it has a “known” origin.

Emma Bloomfield, a UNLV professor who studies the spread of information on social media, said people expect to come across news about serious topics such as politics and war. People may have been interested in the appearance of a monolith seemingly out of nowhere because it disrupts their everyday sense of reality, she said.

“To me, it’s not surprising that something like this would sort of go viral because it has those elements of mystery,” Bloomfield said. “People can become detectives and try to, you know, trace origins or figure things out.”

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen@reviewjournal.com. Follow @breenreports on X.

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