Given all the insanity we’ve endured this year, the only thing left that hasn’t happened yet but surely will is an alien visitation. Sometime before New Year’s.

Maybe this is it.

My read is that it’s one of the great pranks of all time, partly due to the degree of difficulty involved and partly because of the patience required for the payoff. Imagine going to the trouble of erecting a sculpture in the desert and then not telling anyone what you’d done, knowing that the secrecy would ensure a news-making surprise when the object was eventually “discovered.”

Presumably someone put this thing up in the expectation that someday, years in the future, possibly long after the sculptor had died, a hiker out in the middle of nowhere would turn a corner and suddenly find himself face to face with an inexplicable, incongruous, otherworldly metallic sculpture. Hilarious.

Greatest prank ever — except for one thing. If you’re willing to erect a monolith in the wild, why


why wouldn’t you design it to look like the monolith from “2001”? Make it rectangular, paint it black. The news coverage when it was found would shake the world. That’s the greatest prank ever. Watch, then read on.

You can see the screws holding it together in part of the video. The chief mystery has to do not with whether it’s man-made or even why it was erected but how the sculptor managed to pull it off in this particular location. The site isn’t located right alongside a trail; the terrain is sufficiently rough and remote that Utah authorities aren’t specifying where they found it for fear that people will get stranded when they inevitably set out to go see it. (Redditors believe they’ve found it on Google Maps.) The officials who found it were flying overhead in a helicopter, surveying the local population of bighorn sheep. So how’d the sculptor pull it off?

The object was found in a remote area that Aaron Bott, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, described as rugged and very rocky, with many canyons and potential hazards. “It’s a tough place to get to on vehicle and on foot,” he said…

“Somebody took the time to use some type of concrete-cutting tool or something to really dig down, almost in the exact shape of the object, and embed it really well,” he said. “It’s odd. There are roads close by, but to haul the materials to cut into the rock, and haul the metal, which is taller than 12 feet in sections — to do all that in that remote spot is definitely interesting.”

One Redditor estimated that a thin sheet of aluminum 12 feet high and two feet across might weigh somewhere on the order of 35 lbs. There are three sides to the sculpture, and of course tools would be needed to erect it. That’s more than 100 lbs of material brought into an area that’s tough to reach on foot or with a truck. How many people were involved in the project?

A theory cited by more than one paper today is that the late sculptor John McCracken, who specialized in geometric objects, might have had something to do with it. A spokesman for the gallery where his work is exhibited told the Guardian they thought that it was an homage to McCracken erected by someone else. But the head of the gallery told the Times that he believes it was by McCracken himself. One would think McCracken would have told someone about it, though, or that whoever worked with him to install the object would have. A professional artist would want all of his creations to be known and preserved, no?

Exit question: It’s going to turn out to be a viral marketing stunt by a movie studio for a terrible remake of “2001,” isn’t it?