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Shiny monolith removed from mountains outside Las Vegas. How it got there is still a mystery

A monolith near Gass Peak, Nev., on Sunday, June 16, 2024. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department) A monolith near Gass Peak, Nev., on Sunday, June 16, 2024. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
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LAS VEGAS -

A strange monolith found jutting out of the rocks in a remote mountain range near Las Vegas has been taken down by authorities.

How it got there is still unsolved.

"It remains unknown how the item got to its location or who might be responsible," Las Vegas police said Friday in a series of posts on X announcing the removal of the glimmering, 6-foot-4 prism.

Its discovery over the weekend, and quick removal because of public safety and environmental concerns, revived a pandemic-era mystery that captured the public's imagination when shiny monoliths evoking the object that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" began to appear around the globe.

Members of the Las Vegas police search and rescue team found the object near Gass Peak, part of the vast Desert National Wildlife Refuge where bighorn sheep and desert tortoises can be found roaming.

It was the latest discovery in a series of mysterious columns that have popped up 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, New Mexico and on the famed Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

All of them disappeared as quickly as they popped up, adding to the lore.

"This thing is not from another world," Lt. Nick Street of Utah's Department of Public Safety said at the time.

The Utah monolith, believed to be the first in the series, 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. But internet sleuths quickly found the coordinates, and hordes of curious tourists eager to see and touch the otherworldly object arrived, flattening plants with their cars and leaving behind human waste in the bathroom-free backcountry.

Authorities said the same concerns led them to tear down the latest monolith on Thursday.

It was illegally installed on federal land established to protect bighorn sheep and is home to rare plants and desert tortoises. The Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska and can cover the state of Rhode Island twice.

Christa Weise, acting manager of the wildlife refuge, confirmed Friday that the monolith had been removed but said she couldn't comment on whether federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation.

The police department said the object was being kept at a secret location while authorities try to figure out the best way to dispose or store the massive structure made out of a reflective sheet of metal that was molded into a prism and secured with rebar and concrete.

Photos accompanying the department's social media posts showed the object on its side after its removal, which left a large indent in the ground because the rebar had been buried deep into the dirt and rocks.

The department said it "discourages anyone from venturing off marked trails or leaving objects and items behind."

"This poses a danger to you and the environment," Las Vegas police said.

In Utah, the removal of the monolith there also left behind a hole in the red rock. The Bureau of Land Management said Friday that it was still actively investigating the Utah case.

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