The story of the weird, mystery monolith in Utah just got weirder

A 12-foot metal obelisk was found in the middle of nowhere last week. Now, it's gone.

Some of you might already be aware that, a couple of weeks back, Utah's Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau discovered a giant, 12-foot-tall metal monolith embedded into the ground somewhere in the southeastern part of the state. As you might imagine, countess alien jokes and 2001: A Space Odyssey references ensued on social media, which somewhat overshadowed the fact that, you know, a massive obelisk has just been chilling in the desert for who knows how long.

It was pretty ridiculous, really. Can't we just all appreciate that some conceptual artist who, most likely, secretly lugged that thing out there and left it for us to someday find? That's pretty funny and cool, right? Or, obviously, it could have been aliens that did it. Either way, nifty stuff.

Anyway. It's gone now.

Discovered while literally counting sheep — The monolith, discovered on November 18 by surveyors counting the local bighorn sheep population (as one does), stumped local officials, who hoped to keep the monolith's map coordinates a secret to prevent hapless tourists from getting themselves killed in the Utahan desert.

"The exact location of the installation is not being disclosed since it is in a very remote area and if individuals were to attempt to visit the area, there is a significant possibility they may become stranded and require rescue. We are encouraging anyone who knows the location of the monolith to not attempt to visit it due to road conditions," the department wrote in its official blog post. Of course, people went out and found the thing, which may or may not be the reason why the latest 2020 curiosity isn't there anymore.

Just me and bae on a hiking trip last weekend!Utah DPS

A new mystery to decode — Internet sleuths determined via scouring Google Earth archival images that the totem arrived sometime between August 2015 and October 2016, but it would seem its tenure has now officially ended. Less than two weeks after its existence was revealed to the public, the monolith has up and left, probably thanks to all you selfish cretins out there. Now, only a small pyramid seemingly comprised of the same metal sits in its stead alongside a pile of rocks.

"We recognize the incredible interest the 'monolith' has generated world-wide. Many people have been enjoying the mystery and view it as a welcome distraction from the 2020 news cycle," Monticello Field Manager Amber Denton Johnson told "Even so, it was installed without authorization on public lands and the site is in a remote area without services for the large number of people who now want to see it. Whenever you visit public lands please follow Leave No Trace principles and Federal and local laws and guidance."

The most likely explanation — First off, let's pause for a moment to admire the fact that Denton Johnson took a moment to remind everyone just how shitty this year has been. Okay, now that's out of the way: yes, now there is a new, weird wrinkle in the monolith mystery. Online detectives have considered a wide array of possibilities, but the most convincing points to an homage to the late sculptor, John McCracken, who died in 2011. Still, no one is quite sure yet how the sculpture was removed so quickly or who was behind its vanishing act.

Did the monolith's maker come back to replace it with a smaller mystery to mock us all? Or did some lame-ass come to steal the thing to hawk it for cash? Either way, it's definitely gone now. So long, mystery monolith. We hardly knew ye.