Researchers scouring NASA images for anomalies may have made their most unsettling discovery yet: a snake on Mars!
Spotted in a photo taken by the Mars Rover, the oddity has ignited the usual conspiracy claims that the Red Planet is rife with evidence of either an ancient civilization or, in this case, creatures that are still alive.
Some have suggested that snakes would be ideal denizens of Mars today due to its harsh conditions, although a living reptile on the Red Planet would somehow have had to adapt to that world's predominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere.
More imaginative researchers have even proposed that the snake is not Martian at all and actually a mistake by NASA that proves their vaunted 'Mars Rover' is actually sitting in a desert somewhere on Earth taking pictures to fool the public into thinking we've gone to the Red Planet.
However, no doubt frustrated by the sheer number of times they have to say it, skeptics simply dismiss the snake as another example of the pareidolia phenomenon.
Not quite as worrisome as a handgun, a snake is definitely scarier than a shoe and so, in this case, we hope the skeptics are correct, since we wouldn't wish for any future astronauts to encounter such a creature when humans eventually arrive on Mars.
Coast Insiders can take a deep dive into some of the more promising anomalies found on Mars that have let researchers mystified by checking out the 10/28/2013 edition of the program featuring author Mike Bara.
Not a Coast Insider yet? Sign up today.