NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars sparked controversy this week when it beamed back pictures from the Red Planet of what appeared to be a thigh bone, setting the internet alight with rumors and theories.
Pictures of the alleged thigh bone on Mars first appeared in a UFO blog, but was quickly picked up on by more general media outlets.
It seems that the rumors of evidence of a possible life form on Mars were quickly nipped in the bud by NASA which, on Thursday, released the pictures along with a feasible scientific explanation as to what the thigh bone really is.
Space.com reported that the NASA caption with the photo reads: “This Mars rock may look like a femur thigh bone. It is not the fossilized remains of a mysterious Martian. Mission science team members think its shape is likely sculpted by erosion, either wind or water.”
Even though the NASA rover has revealed that Mars may well have been habitable years ago, the thigh bone picture proves nothing. NASA officials continued:
“If life ever existed on Mars, scientists expect that it would be small simple life forms called microbes. Mars likely never had enough oxygen in its atmosphere and elsewhere to support more complex organisms. Thus, large fossils are not likely.”
The phenomenon called pareidolia, in which the human brain perceives things like faces, animals and other shapes when they aren’t really there, is nothing new.
Back in the 1800s, when astronomers reported seeing canals on Mars from telescopes, this was also considered to be a case of pareidolia. And in 1976, NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter revealed what appeared to be a face on Mars, but observers later noted that the face was simply an elaborate rock feature.
Other photos have alleged to show what looked like anything from lizards to jelly donuts, but so far no evidence of life ever existing on Mars has been proven.