Theories abound over the mysterious metal monolith found in Utah, Utah

A giant metal puzzle board has caught the attention of millions as people speculate on how such a structure developed in remote parts of southern Utah.

The facility was first spotted last week by a helicopter pilot and wildlife officers who flew over the rugged area to count the big-horned sheep for the state each year. He immediately made comparisons with the monolith presented in 2001: Space Odyssey, and called the work of extraterrestrials with suggestions.

The helicopter pilot, Bret Hutchings, had the opportunity to take a close look at the large metal plate and guessed it was probably the work of an artist.

“I’m assuming it’s some new-wave artist, or something, or you know, someone who was a big 2001: a Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings told the local news station, KSLTV, which first reported on the slab.

The work has been compared to the work of many minimalist sculptors, including the artist John McCracken, who passed away in 2011. His colleague, David Zwirner, told the Guardian that the subject of the mystery was not one of his creations.

“While this is not the work of the late American artist John McCracken, we suspect it is the work of a fellow artist who pays homage to McCracken,” said David Zwirner, a spokesman.

One thing is known is to install illegal structures or arts in federally managed public spaces without permission, the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) says. That’s true, “no matter which planet you come from,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency says it has no plans to reveal the exact location of the object. “It’s in a very remote area, and if individuals were to try to visit the area, there’s a significant chance they could get stuck and claim rescue,” DPS said.

This did not prevent Reddit users from identifying its likely location and talking about theories about how the object might have gotten there and why.

In magnified images of the structure, Reddit users noted that there are lines along the base that suggest a rock saw was used in the ground and that it was held together with screws, dispersing the theory that a large piece of metal could be.

The structure also sparked controversy in the geographic world, which challenged the Utah government by using the word “monolith” to describe the object.

The monolith is technically a geographical feature made of stone, while this slab appears to be made of metal. However, Merriam Webster’s dictionary allows for a looser interpretation of the monolith as a “massive structure,” and that is the word used to describe Stanley Kubrick’s director of structure, made famous in 2001: Space Odyssey.