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Gleaming monolith pops up in Nevada desert, the latest in a series of quickly vanishing structures

This photo provided by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows a monolith near Gass Peak, Nev., on Sunday, June 16, 2024. Jutting out of the rocks on a remote mountain peak near Las Vegas, the glimmering rectangular prism's reflective surface imitates the vast desert landscape surrounding the mountain peak where it has been erected.
AP
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Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
This photo provided by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows a monolith near Gass Peak, Nev., on Sunday, June 16, 2024. Jutting out of the rocks on a remote mountain peak near Las Vegas, the glimmering rectangular prism's reflective surface imitates the vast desert landscape surrounding the mountain peak where it has been erected.

A strange monolith has been found jutting out of a remote mountain peak near Las Vegas.

The strange monolith looks like it could have come from another world.

Hidden in the rocks in a remote mountain range near Las Vegas, the glimmering rectangular prism's reflective surface imitates the vast desert landscape surrounding the mountain peak where it has been erected.

But where did the object come from, and is it still there? That's a mystery the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was trying to solve after learning about it Monday through a social media post.

Las Vegas police said on the social platform X that members of its search and rescue unit found the otherworldly object over the weekend near Gass Peak, part of the vast Desert National Wildlife Refuge where bighorn sheep and desert tortoises can be found roaming. At 6,937 feet (2,114 meters), it is among the highest peaks in the area north of Las Vegas.

"We see a lot of weird things when people go hiking like not being prepared for the weather, not bringing enough water," the police department wrote. "But check this out!"

Photos accompanying the department's post show the strange structure standing tall against a bright blue sky, with distant views of the Las Vegas valley. It evokes the object that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Neither the police department nor its search and rescue unit immediately responded Monday to requests for more information about their discovery — the latest in a series of mysterious shiny columns popping up around the globe since at least 2020.

In November of that year, a similar metal monolith was found deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah's red-rock desert. Then came sightings in Romania, central California and on the famed Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

All of them disappeared as quickly as they popped up.

The Utah structure, which captured the world's imagination during the pandemic, is believed to be the first in the series. It stood at about 12 feet (3.6 meters) and had been embedded in the rock in an area so remote that officials didn't immediately reveal its location for fear of people getting lost or stranded while trying to find it.

Hordes of curious tourists still managed to find it, and along the way flattened plants with their cars and left behind human waste in the bathroom-free backcountry. Two men known for extreme sports in Utah's sweeping outdoor landscapes say it was that kind of damage that made them step in late at night and tear it down.

Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it is worried the same level of damage could happen at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which was established to protect bighorn sheep and is home to rare plants. It is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska and can cover the state of Rhode Island twice.

"People might come looking for it and be coming with inappropriate vehicles or driving where they shouldn't, trampling plants," said Christa Weise, the refuge's acting manager.

The Utah and Nevada structures were illegally installed on federal land.