In September 2012, a photograph snapped by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity caught the attention of Internet sleuths everywhere. This picture appears to show a large rat hiding among some Martian rocks, and after its release it quickly went viral.
The image of what looks like a camouflaged rodent was spotted by a UFO enthusiast inspecting a panoramic shot taken at the “Rocknest” site.
“It’s a cute rodent on Mars,” wrote ufologist Scott Waring, on his UFO Sightings Daily website. “Note its lighter-color upper and lower eyelids, its nose and cheek areas, its ear, its front leg and stomach.”
Over the next several years, Waring continued to spot artifacts in imagery captured by NASA landers, which he believed had been left behind by an ancient civilization that once existed on the Red Planet.
The artifacts Waring identified on his website included a large Roman-style arch, a fossilized tree stump, the remains of a crashed spacecraft, massive skyscrapers and the carved outline of a woman’s body in the Martian rock bed.
With respect to the rodent, Waring suggested that perhaps NASA flew the rodent there secretly as part of an experiment to evaluate Mars’s capacity to support life. This assertion of course makes little sense, because it doesn’t explain how the rat could have survived the 253-day trip from Earth to Mars, or how it could have been moving around on Mars with no breathable air.
After a while, even some who were initially interested in his work grew disenchanted with Waring. In response to the growing criticism, he shut down his website and disappeared from public view in 2017.