Last week, park workers made a gleaming discovery in the Martian-red desert of central Utah: a shiny, thee-metre-tall sculpture they named the "monolith".
Worried people might get lost trying to find it, the workers for the Utah Department of Public Safety chose to keep its location a mystery. But this mystery lasted all of two days, once pictures of their discovery were shared online.
The desert spans a dizzying range. Red Rock conservation area is 800 square kilometres of treacherous terrain and arid desert, but that did not deter internet sleuths.
"The fact that they haven't revealed the location because they don't want people to get lost looking for it makes me want to get lost while looking for it," was the top comment on a web forum dedicated to the mystery.
With many eyes scouring Google earth and satellite imagery – it didn't take long to pinpoint a long shadow in the desert. Posting coordinates online, the shadow piqued the interest of monolith hunters.
But, there was only one way to be sure. Utah local David Surber went in search to see if this was indeed the spot. The 33-year-old former US army officer drove 6 hours, over-night after being captivated by the mystery online.
Arriving in pitch blackness Surber had the mysterious monument to himself.
"I had no idea it was that gorgeous of a view," he said as the morning light lit up the Red Rock Desert.
He was bombarded by questions and "close to 200 messages" after telling his Instagram followers that he was heading into the desert to look for the monolith.
Bringing a magnet to "test for doors or panels" he confirmed it wasn't magnetic "probably aluminium". Made from three pieces of metal the monolith was held together with rivets.
As the sun rose, it wasn't long before more mystery hunters turned up to the site.
"I had it alone to myself for about 10 minutes in the morning before people started showing up," said Surber. Finger prints on the shiny sculpture showed that people had made the trip before him. The site which is 45 minutes north on a 4WD track called Lockhart road needs a serious set of wheels to reach, but Surber said you'll "want to make the journey."
Visiting the shiny, space-aged monolith dispelled some of the more outlandish theories about the sculpture. Namely that it was a UFO. Surber confirmed, it was a very terrestrial sculpture being held together by simple hardware rivets.
However many of the bigger mysteries remained.
Those looking at the satellite photos of the object found it in logged imagery from as far back as 2016. It had been in the Utah desert, undisturbed for almost five years.
Art historians tried to pinpoint the creator of the mystery artwork, which had not been claimed. Many suggested Utah artist Petecia Le Fawnhawk – who puts artwork in secret desert locations – might be behind the monolith. The surrealist sculptor is famous for placing desert artworks in "vast dreamscape" spaces, but she did not claim this artwork.
The John McCracken gallery – which initially thought it might have been an unknown work - suspected "it is a work by a fellow artist paying homage to McCracken."
The monolith was remarkably similar to McCracken's totem sculptures. However, the monolith appeared in the desert at least 4 years after the sculptor's death in 2011.
For all these refined, high-art allusions and pretensions, there was one similarity that was unavoidable.
The Monolith and its setting is straight from the opening frames of Stanley Kubricks' sci-fi film - 2001:A Space Odyssey. The similarities are striking enough to have inspired memes and the name "monolith" to be adopted from the 1968 film.
The monolith from the movie was a message from interplanetary aliens - sent to inspire humans to explore the universe beyond our solar system. And while it is "definitely not aliens" the sculpture has inspired hundreds of visitors to journey to the site.
"From the beginning I had hopes it was otherworldly… who wouldn't want it to be. Yet deep down inside you know it was most likely just a very patient artist or Space Odyssey 2001 fan," said Surber.
"Regardless of who built it or where it came from. It was a positive escape from today's world."
"I knew that once the location became public knowledge that people would visit the area," said Mr Slane. "I have received some angry messages for my revealing of the location. If I had not found it, someone else would likely have found it soon enough.