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'Thigh bone' on Mars? NASA says no while optimists say alien femur fossil

While there is a faction of space-alien enthusiasts who claim that the recent NASA Mars photo that resembles a bent human thigh bone is possible proof of extraterrestrial life -- or fossilized evidence of past life -- NASA would like to kindly disagree. CNET reported Aug. 22 that the space agency's science team believes the "thigh bone" photo taken by NASA's Curiosity rover is nothing more than a bone-shaped eroded rock.

The blog "Anything UFO" asks: "Could this be a bone of an alien being with humanoid type appendages?" Acknowledging that the top of the bone is "somewhat like" a human femur, the post goes on to posit that "our alien relatives could be put together just a little but differently."

But NASA says the image in the Curiosity photo is nothing more than a weathered Mars rock. Prior to the speculative post at "Anything UFO," the government agency tried to head off such wishful thinking on the part of wishfully thinking xenophiles. "If life ever existed on Mars," the agency captioned the Mars photo, "scientists expect that it would be small simple life forms called microbes. Mars likely never had enough oxygen in its atmosphere and elsewhere to support more complex organisms. Thus, large fossils are not likely."

As Space.com pointed out (via Yahoo News), there is a long history of familiar shapes being seen on the surface of Mars. From the massive "Face on Mars" to the "lizard-squirrel-rat" thing to the jelly donut, all sorts of familiar things have been observed in photos of the Red Planet. Such recognition in what would normally just be an unremarkable pattern or shape is called pareidolia.

Another recent case of pareidolia concerning a space-related image was the giant alien (or statue) and its shadow on the Moon.

So, if you're one of the many millions who believe that humans will one day find evidence of alien life, don'g get your hopes up that there is new evidence of ET or that the government is simply trying to cover up the fact that life exists on Mars. It does not appear to be either.

Like many of the familiar things found by rovers Curiosity and Opportunity and the various orbital spacecraft that have taken a vast number of photos of Mars, the "thigh bone" is just another red rock.