“Seen by Mars rover Curiosity using its MastCam, this rock of Mars may look like a thigh bone of the femur. The members of the scientific team of the mission, think its shape is likely sculpted by erosion, wind or water, ” wrote a spokesman for NASA in a brief blog post.
“If life ever existed on Mars, scientists expect to be small forms of simple life called microbes. Mars has probably never had enough oxygen in its atmosphere and elsewhere to support more complex organisms. Thus, large fossils are not likely. ”
See patterns in configurations random is not a new phenomenon. You do probably every day without realizing it – whether it is a face in your outlet or a paw print in the foam of soap on your shower door. This phenomenon is called pareidolia, and it is believed that it occurs when certain parts of the brain dealing with visual information and draw conclusions before the rest of your brain catches up.
Here on Earth, most people recognize their paréidolie for what it is, but for some reason – perhaps because we can’t go there and steal the objects in question – the paréidolie on Mars is a territory fertile for conspiracy theorists.
Many rocks have triggered flights of fancy on the signs of the old life or even civilizations on Mars. The most famous, perhaps, was the image of a region called Cydonia, taken in 1976, purporting to show a massive sculpture of a face (later, high-resolution images showed that it was … just a rock formation).
There is also the March Bigfoot, the cannonball of March spoon of March, the female warrior of Mars and the “god assyrian” of March. Last year, a scientist has claimed to have identified insects fossilized on Mars. Another claimed to have found mushrooms. But there is absolutely no evidence that these images show something other than the altered rocks.
We send missions to Mars since the 1960s, including four rovers, and the five landers successfully. The scientists were eager to find signs of life – past or present – on this ball of rock red dust. Not only would it be fascinating to learn what life is like alien, but this would be a proof incredible that the Earth is not unique in the Universe.
Our efforts are currently focused on the microbes. As NASA has already been noted, the martian environment is probably not and has perhaps never been conducive to a more complex life. If a more complex life has flourished on Mars over the past billion years, our rovers and orbiters have found no evidence.
The one who made that first discovery will go down in history (and be a very good candidate for a Nobel prize); the scientists have no interest in concealing evidence of life on Mars. This rock vaguely in the shape of a femur, is simply not it.
As to why the image reappears in the tabloids now, six years after having been discovered and demystified, your guess is as good as ours.