Alien hunters and conspiracy theorists were sent into a frenzy on November 18 when a helicopter flyby from the Utah Department of Public Safety found a huge metal structure in the middle of the Utah desert. The mysterious monolith popped up without reason and warning, leading experts to be baffled over its discovery. However, as mysteriously as it arrived, the monolith vanished over the weekend of November 28.
The strange 12 ft (3.7m) high metal oblong prompted wild speculation across the internet, with theories ranging from an art installation to a film prop – and even aliens.
Some claimed that aliens took it back to their home planet, but a photographer who managed to track down the monolith says he saw a group of people take the strange object away.
Nature photographer Ross Bernards posted to Instagram to give a detailed account as to what happened.
He said: “On Friday, 3 friends and myself drove the 6 hours down to the middle of nowhere in Utah and got to the ‘trailhead’ around 7 PM after passing a sea of cars on our way in.
“We passed one group as we hiked towards the mysterious monolith, while another group was there when we arrived, and they left pretty quick after we got there.
“For the next hour and 40 minutes we had the place to ourselves.
“I had just finished taking some photos of the monolith under the moonlight and was taking a break, thinking about settings I needed to change for my last battery of drone flight when we heard some voices coming up the canyon.
“We were contemplating packing up our things as they walked up, so they could enjoy it for themselves like we did.
“Then all four of them came up and pushed it almost to the ground on one side, before they decided to push it back the other when it then popped out and landed on the ground with a loud bang.
“They quickly broke it apart and as they were carrying to the wheelbarrow that they had brought one of them looked back at us all and said ‘Leave no trace’.”
As to why Mr Bernards did not stop the assailants, he said that ultimately he believes they were inadvertently doing a good thing.
Thousands of people had been trekking through the dangerous, isolated desert, permanently altering the landscape with their cars.
He continued: “We stayed the night and the next day hiked to a hill top overlooking the area where we saw at least 70 different cars (and a plane) in and out.
“Cars parking everywhere in the delicate desert landscape. Nobody following a path or each other.
“We could literally see people trying to approach it from every direction to try and reach it, permanently altering the untouched landscape.
“Mother Nature is an artist, it’s best to leave the art in the wild to her.”