On Thursday, media outlets across the English-speaking world creamed their collective space-jeans over a possible "alien thigh bone" recently photographed by the Mars rover Curiosity. Citing the basement-renowned astronomists at Ufo-blogger.com, the Huffington Post, The Independent and the Daily Mirror all published empty speculation about the "mysterious object," the last naming it "the latest in a string of sightings of fossilised bones that enthusiasts have spotted."
In their defense, at least one paper seemed appropriately embarrassed about the story, the U.K.'s Metro running the headline "Is This an Alien's Thigh Bone? Probably Not, Let's Be Honest."
In case you weren't quite sure yet, no, this isn't one of E.T.'s excarnated gams. Yesterday, NASA issued a press release stating the vaguely bone-shaped rock "is likely sculpted by erosion, either wind or water," noting that Mars "likely never had enough oxygen" to support complex life.
Planetary Society Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla was even less equivocal in her dismissal. "They're wind-carved rocks!" she told Gawker via email, judging the deceptively large-looking non-bone to be "roughly 5 centimeters, or 2 inches long."
Asked if geologists had a technical name for the stones, Lakdawalla said, "No, they're just rocks." This concludes the latest installment of Antiviral's ongoing science series "it's just a rock, you rubes."
[Image via NASA]