back to article Found on Mars: Alien insects... or whatever the hell this smudge is supposed to be, anyway

An entomologist in the US claims to have discovered extraterrestrial insects living on Mars after spending years poring over photos of the Red Planet's surface. “There has been and still is life on Mars,” William Romoser triumphantly declared this week in a statement that was publicly emitted and then, funnily enough, hastily …

  1. tfewster
    Black Helicopters

    Show me more

    Of course a single grainy still won't be conclusive. The linked article on explains more rigorous testing than "that's an odd shape" (like apparent movement) and more photos (unfortunately unavailable).

    On the other hand...Rorschach inkblot test. You see what you want to see.

    I was torn between the alien and the insect-like icon --->

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: Show me more

      I guess if you're an entomologist and all you have is a Damaeus hammerae, everything looks like a Ceratobaeus nailae.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Show me more

      You see what you want to see.

      No doubts, this clearly is a nude cutie. Alien, maybe. But nude. And cute.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Show me more

        You see what you want to see.

        Pareidolia. If this professor emeritus had spent the last 50 years studying mosses instead of insects he'd be telling us that Mars is packed full of fossilised moss.

        1. Paul Kinsler

          Re: If this professor emeritus had spent the last 50 years studying mosses

          As it happens, I agree: I've spent a few decades working in fields related to electromagnetism and optics, and I can conclusively say that these Mars photos indicate, nay *prove*, that there are photons on Mars. :-)

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Grooke

              Re: If this professor emeritus had spent the last 50 years studying mosses

              I almost wooooshed hard and pointed out your "misspelling" of duel.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Show me more

      "You see what you want to see.

      I was torn between the alien and the insect-like icon --->"

      The "insect" is a birds eye view of a helicopter....

      I'm worried that my posting this will result in a "*woooosh*" response!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Kubla Cant

        Re: Show me more

        The "insect" is a birds eye view of a helicopter....

        But only if the bird is directly above the helicopter, or directly below, flying upside-down. Actually, most birds' eyes are on the side of their heads, so it would have to be flying on its side in both cases. Can birds do that?

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Show me more

          How about Captain Birds-eye?

        2. ravenviz Silver badge

          Re: Show me more

          I turn a deaf eye to all this nonsense!


    4. JoeySter

      Re: Show me more

      It's an interesting question of have they tried experimenting just shining a really bright light up at night and seeing if anything is reflected back.

    5. spold Silver badge

      Re: Show me more

      It's clearly the remains of a red Tesla Roadster

  2. Blackjack Silver badge

    Now is this a bug...

    Or a feature?


    It definitely it is clickbait!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    No oxygen

    And nothing to eat on Mars (except other insects, I guess?) is apparently not a problem for this crazy theory!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No oxygen

      All this wasted time and effort building ships and sending probes.

      They just speak to my Indian neighbour. He has a few cousins that work at the Mars factory...he can tell these so called scientists what's there.

      Also, why are they going the long way round? If they just come off the M4 at Junction 7 and head into the trading estate, they'll find Mars just there.

      I'm also on good authority that if you head to top of Clewer Hill in Windsor, on a clear day you can see Mars with your naked eye. No telescope required.

      1. dnicholas

        Re: No oxygen

        You CAN see mars with the naked eye, but on a clear night, and depending upon where it's at in its orbit

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: No oxygen

          Who ever dresses their eyes?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Who ever dresses their eyes?

            People who wear spectacles?

      2. Davidmb


        No life can survive in the near-vacuum of Slough.

        1. TimMaher Silver badge

          Re: Rubbish

          Up vote for that one @Davidmb.

          “O gentle bombs, come rain on Slough.

          It isn’t fit for humans now.”

          Or some thing like that.

      3. Simon Harris

        Re: No oxygen

        "They just speak to my Indian neighbour. He has a few cousins that work at the Mars factory...he can tell these so called scientists what's there."

        Mars was made in a factory? Is one of your neighbour's cousins Slartibartfast?

        1. BigSLitleP

          Re: No oxygen

          Mars comes from a can

          It was put there by a man

          In a factory in


          1. Tom 38

            Re: No oxygen

            If I had my little way

            I'll eat snickers every day

            Heart attack by 40

      4. jmch Silver badge

        Re: No oxygen

        "They just speak to my Indian neighbour. He has a few cousins that work at the Mars factory"

        Come on, there NEVER would be any insects at the Mars factory.

        Would there.....???

        1. Ochib

          Re: No oxygen

          According to ABC News, the average chocolate bar contains eight insect parts. Anything less than 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate (two chocolate bars' worth) is deemed safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.

          1. Nick

            Re: No oxygen

            But in the FDA's defence (this time) that's because the insects were once on the plant and removing them would involve more pesticides. Of course there could also be factory roaches in there too...

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: No oxygen

          I once found a load of dead ants in a packet of Polo's. As I was doing theatre sound, it was dark & not apparent until halfway through the packet & the play.

          Icon - Polo the mint with the dead ants in the hole.

          1. Just Enough

            Re: No oxygen

            "I once found a load of dead ants in a packet of Polo's."

            I think I spotted one there, just between the o and the s in "Polos". It couldn't be anything else but an ant. Certainly not an apostrophe.

        3. Teiwaz

          Re: No oxygen

          Well, used to live in Hull, and the combined smell of British Coaca Mills and Needlers we used to think smelt like the burning of dead insects.

    2. 7teven 4ect

      Re: No oxygen

      Creatures can survive the vacuum of space, so why not 'live' very slowly in the near-vacuum of mars?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: No oxygen

        If you can metabolize in a near-vacuum of carbon dioxide at -60C, good luck to you. You're probably single-celled and not very good at repairing UV damage.

    3. DRendar

      Re: No oxygen

      Er... There IS oxygen on Mars...

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: No oxygen

        Yep, just not that much atmospheric O2.

        In theory there isn't any reason that organisms couldn't metabolise CO2. Getting the chemistry to work at -60C is another thing altogether

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No oxygen

        Insects "breathe" through their exoskeleton via gas exchange, and their maximum size is linked to the amount of oxygen available (that's why there were bigger insects in the past, when oxygen levels were at 35% instead of the current 20%)

        The tiny percentage of oxygen in Mars' atmosphere, coupled with the very thin atmosphere, would mean insects couldn't grow large enough to see without suffocating.

        1. Mike Moyle

          Re: No oxygen

          "Insects "breathe" through their exoskeleton via gas exchange (...)"

          Actually, I believe they breathe via spiracles -- openings in the exoskeleton which connect to the trachea, not permeation through the exoskeleton, and it's the size of the spiracles that limits their size.

          In any case, however, the lower oxygen content in the Martian atmosphere clearly explains why the insects there today are so much smaller than the ones who attempted colonizing the Earth from there 5 million years ago/.

          1. Charlie van Becelaere

            Re: No oxygen

            Professor Quatermass, I presume?

            1. drewsup

              Re: No oxygen

              Still love that movie, watch it every time it's on the telly, scared the begesus outta me as a kid!

  4. Steve Aubrey


    “It is very clear that much more study of the photos is needed”

    At least one thing is clear, then . . .

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: 20/20

      Yeah, I'm guessing, given his enthusiasm over those blurry pics, that said "professor emeritus" is also a keen believer in UFOs.

      1. RuffianXion

        Re: 20/20

        My guess would be that he's also a keen believer in single malt whisky.

        1. Muscleguy

          Re: 20/20

          If you have ever been properly drunk on single malt whisky you would know that your thought processes remain surprisingly lucid. It is unlike being drunk on anything else.

          After our youngest was born my FiL came up with the 1.125litre bottle of Glenfiddich I had bought him duty free a few months previously to wet the baby’s head. He, myself and my best man were all partaking but as the evening wore on my glass got filled more often as I was sitting next to FiL. So I consumed more than a third of the bottle. With some nice Pacific oysters.

          My wife’s grandmother was surprised that I could walk a straight line and hold a lucid conversation. She was staying with us to look after the eldest whilst I was hand holding an brow wiping in the delivery suite.

          I was fine until I lay down to sleep and found the room refused to stay still.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: 20/20

            I was fine until I lay down to sleep and found the room refused to stay still.

            Lightweight. 400ml of Glenfiddich is breakfast.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 20/20

            Never went through that amount of whisky in one night, let alone Glenfiddich which imho is just good for cooking. But what you describe comes close to an excessive dose of petrol sniffing - involuntarily that is. Followed by the grandma of headaches.

          3. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: surprised that I could walk a straight line and hold a lucid conversation

            That reminds me of Lemmy's autobiog's story of the live taping of Hawkwind's "Silver Machine" at Camden Roundhouse, which he hammered whilst so hammered he couldn't see the audience :

            Dikmik and I had been up for about three days prior, whacking down Dexedrine. Then we got a bit paranoid and took some downers -- Mandrax -- but we thought it wasn't very interesting because it calmed us down too much, so we took some acid, and then we took some mescaline to make it more colorful. It started getting a bit freaky, so we took a couple more Mandrax...and then we took some more speed because we got too slowed down again. Then we went to the Roundhouse. Dikmik was driving and he was really interested in the side of the road, so he kept steering over to look at it. Finally we got up there and we walked in the dressing room and it was full of smoke -- everyone was smoking dope. So we sat there for a while and somebody came in with some cocaine and we had some of that and then some Black Bombers (or Black Beauties, as they're known in the States -- uppers) arrived so we each had eight of them. Oh yeah, and we took some more acid as well. By the time we had to go on stage, me and Dikmik were like boards!

            "Fuckin' hell, 'Mik," I said, "I can't move. Can you?"

            "No," he replied, "It's great, isn't it?"

            "Yeah, but we've got to get on stage soon."

            "Oh, they'll help us," he assured me.

            So the roadies hooked our bootheels on to the back of the stage and pushed us up, and they strapped my bass on me.

            "Right, okay," I said, "Which way is the audience, man?"

            "That way."

            "How far?"

            "Ten yards."

            So I stepped up -- "One, two, three, four, five, right. Hit it."

            And that was one of the best live gigs we ever taped. The jamming between me and Brock was great. But I never saw the audience! We got "Silver Machine", our only hit -- and a No.2 at that! -- from that gig!

          4. BigSLitleP

            Re: 20/20

            As a lover of whiskey, i find this is 100% true. I always feel happy and warm and not drunk and then some git decides to start spinning my bed around when i lie down on it. I find this massively unfair.

            1. Mike Moyle

              Re: 20/20

              "Bed"...? Pfaugh!

              It don't count as drunk until you have to hold on to the floor to keep from falling off!

              1. tuppence

                Re: 20/20

                labyrinthitis is also suprisingly good at making you hold onto the floor to stop you from falling off..

          5. iron Silver badge

            Re: 20/20

            Glenfiddich... barely a single malt. Just barely.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 20/20

        Pedantry I know but "UFOs" by definition exist unless all flying objects are always identifed immediately

        1. tfewster

          Re: 20/20

          Not pedantry. A good contract clause

  5. Imhotep

    I See Dead People

    It appears to be the same phenomena as people who see Jesus on a slice of toast or the Virgin Mary in a stucco wall.

    Interesting that he describes earth-like insects that are supposed to have evolved in a Mars environment. Color me skeptical.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I See Dead People

      Why are people looking for Jesus in slices of toast? They should look in South America, Jesus is everywhere.

      There's one at the petrol station, one running a coffee shop etc.

      1. Chris G

        Re: I See Dead People

        I worked on a construction site in Ibiza with Jesus, five or six years back.

        He had a penchant for clubbing and dropping a few tabs at weekends.

        1. TrumpSlurp the Troll

          Re: I See Dead People

          Did he cry at all?

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: I See Dead People

        They should look in South America, Jesus is everywhere.

        In our Spanish office Jesus did a lot of customer specific programming. His code was workman like, but not miraculous.

    2. Tom 7

      Re: I See Dead People

      "Virgin Mary in a stucco wall" were women allowed to drive then?

    3. Grikath

      Re: I See Dead People

      Not just sceptical, but quite incredulous.

      As an entomologist, the professor emeritus seems to have forgotten that the basic body plan of the insect class as we know it here on earth evolved in conjunction with the development of flight in the land-based arthropoda. And Mars, at the best of times, never had much of an atmosphere to fly around in because its mass is simply too low.

      Now if any of the things he saw resembled a centipede, he may have been on to something. Those things are basically armored worms with legs and big, BIG, jaws. Their direct aquatic cousins/equivalents are shrimp and lobsters ( also basically armoured worms with legs, and claws to rip you up better..)

      And for the minor cost of inventing bilateral symmetry, segmentation, and armor, which does not seem to be too hard as we found that those were already present during Snowball Earth here, we have the basis for something that may have been a higher life form on Mars, as long as it lasted. And $Deity know that both centipedes and shrimps are so adaptible it isn't funny anymore. If they developed, they may have lasted a bit, and we may just find some fossil evidence there someday.

      But the body plan of flying insects? Nope...

  6. Notas Badoff

    They disappeared!

    I was going to copy my scathing comment from over to here, but my comment has disappeared, the article there disappeared, Google cache erased - it's like there was a cover-up! Or something...

    Pareidolia was mentioned, as it being not too strange for an entomologist of 40 years to see bugs everywhere. Though then I mentioned the possibilities for cameos for he and Wickramasinghe of Cardiff in the upcoming "Attack of the Killer Bees from Mars!" movie.

    Two things brought up by this disappearing of things. First, under what conditions do institutions and media agree to grant mercy to the unwise. It doesn't seem to happen much these days, which makes it notable. I think I like the idea of mercy, but it becomes fuzzy as to 'when'.

    Second, this is another case where content is erased from the net, here an embarrassment to a notable. Not that I'm particularly outraged my clever (discomfiting) comment was blackholed, because that has happened on occasion 'nearby'. Rather, I'm still trying to find a past quote "out there" about banks and 2008 financial crisis where a pol of a certain party had said banks didn't need any more regulation because "bankers are smart people". That a particular party is incapable of obvious economic realities couldn't be important enough to disappear, could it?

    1. Conundrum1885

      Re: They disappeared!


      So could this be evidence of an ongoing cover-up?

      A few years back someone on Coast to Coast claimed to have evidence of fossils on Mars, and later geological evidence suggests that oceans may have persisted there for at least 700MY, in the early Hesperian.

      I have one of the disks they made here somewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They disappeared!

        I have one of the disks they made here somewhere.

        No you don't, the Yakuza will have used a hyperdimensional weapon to erase it.

  7. Palpy

    A tiny tiny Face on Mars

    Way back in the day, Edward Hoagland spent quite a bit of effort to show that there were pyramids and, well, a Face in the photos taken by the Viking spacecraft. He calculated all sorts of stellar alignments that, according to him, could not possibly be accidental.

    Of course, it was all hooey. Better photos showed that the Face was just another eroded butte, and his "alignments" were coincidental (look hard enough, and you can figure out some sort of mystical alignment with something in the universe, even if the connection is labored and obscure).

    The article to hand looks, sadly, a bit like more of the same. I've often opined that there is probably subsurface life of some sort on Mars, probably analogous to unicellular extremophiles on Earth, but we gotta wait for actual hard evidence.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: the Face was just another eroded butte

      It was an ugly face then?

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: the Face was just another eroded butte

        There are pyramids on Mars, I saw a documentary about it, it even had a Doctor, who I can't recall his name & he was the scientific advisor for some UNIT in a nice country priory.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's an insect...

    It fell off the rover, after having hitched a ride.


    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: It's an insect...It fell off the rover

      If it fell off a Rover, I guess it must be some sort of flea...

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: It's an insect...It fell off the rover

        If it fell off a Rover, it was probably a gearbox.

        1. Phage

          Re: It's an insect...It fell off the rover

          I regret I only have one 'Like' to bestow. Comment of the day.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    …doesn't even know the difference between an 'insert' and an 'inset' (at least he didn't say 'insect', since he clearly has bugs on his brain), but expects us to be impressed by his attention to detail.

  10. Totally not a Cylon

    Site visit needed?

    All these people claiming to have proof/evidence of life on Mars should be offered (voluntold) a trip to Mars to check in person.

    Might cut down on all the hype.

    Personally, I believe something will be found but it will be fossils or organic residue, aka oil.....

    Or we could find a Prothean base and then we're screwed

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Site visit needed?

      Depending how well sterilised every single space craft that humans have sent to Mars were, and typically they are sterilised very well on Earth, followed by many months of sterilisation in space, there could easily be dead life on Mars. Not likely to be very large in size though. There could even be very limited living life on Mars as a result, but most likey not as the extremophiles from Earth despite being incredibly hardy probably won't have survived the trip, the landing and then finding not much in the way of food and energy among the high radiation, thin atmosphere low in Oxygen and rather variable Martian temperatues that tend to range between extremely cold and very cold.

      I strongly suspect that if humans deliberately transported to Mars as many different types of bacteria, extremophiles and assorted similar life forms that some of them would survive and possibly flourish for quite a while, possibly for a very long time. Mars may not wind up as a terraformed planet good for humans, but that's a different matter...

      1. YetAnotherBob

        Re: Site visit needed?

        Bacteria form spores in low air pressure and low temperature. Think of a spore as a sort of crystal. We have no idea how long they can remain viable. Estimates vary from thousands of hours to millions of years. Every Mars Lander has brought along bacteria in at least spore form. There are protocols to disinfect spacecraft before they are sent to Mars, but they eliminate Most bacteria but not All bacteria. Those deep within the spacecreft are shielded by the spacecraft. These spores are quite resilient. Studies have shown that a space rock a foot across (30 cm) provides enough shielding to allow bacteria to survive a fall to earth from interplanetary space. Bacteria are also more resistant to radiation than are human beings. Some species can withstand literally thousands of times the that will kill you or me.

        Through the ages, thousands of tons of debris has been blasted into space by asteroid impacts and perhaps the occasional large volcanic eruption. So we should expect that the occasional bit of rock has for literally billions of years been slowly raining down and contaminating both planets from the other. That's called Panspermia. It is perhaps even a thing that can work on nearby interstellar space scales.

        It isn't just bacteria either. There have been some mold varieties that can survive weeks in space. The Russians had a problem with mold on their Salyut Station. It even grew on the outside of the spacecraft. Some of the same problems are on the ISS, though there we seem to have better mold control now.

        I've seen some of the same sorts of reports on tardigrades. That's about the most complex creature that has been tested for such things. No insects however. But tardigrades are bugs, so perhaps insects are possible. Though tardigrades are sea creatures, I think. So you would need liquid salt water to revive the spores.NASA has found limited evidence of salt water on or near the Martian surface. Hmmm....

        But for this article, the evidence presented seems to be mere wishing. No actual investigation of the features claimed has been done. Nor should it. There are more important things for the rovers to be doing than chasing imaginary creatures hoped for at the edges of the camera resolutions. After all, many things can be imagined when all you have is a couple of pixels to go on.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a man in a the Big Foot photo.

  12. Blockchain commentard

    As for those 'insects', everyone knows the fabled two-tailed semi-aquatic bats that lived around Syrtis Major Planum have eaten them all and those are just the husks left over. And that's why the bats died out - they consumed all their natural resources. Let's hope a highly intelligent creature on planet Earth doesn't do the same.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge
      Paris Hilton


      The possibility that there might be intelligent life on Earth is indeed intriguing. Investigations of that possibility would seem to be worthy of further funding. Ideally the research would be funded by a tax on stupidity, but there would appear to be technical problems with implementing such a tax. Perhaps as a workaround, we could tax sales of firearms and, ammunition, wrinkle removing and hair restoring potions, as well as cryptocurrency transactions and accessing facebook, twitter or any website associated with fashion, style, entertainment, or professional athletics.

      BTW, notwithstanding the low gravity, mightn't flying insects on Mars require rather large wings? 0.1 psi isn't much air for a flying critter to work with. The only analysis I could find quickly is at It suggests that flying critters on Mars might want to look into rocketry rather than Earth style aerodynamic flight.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Intriguing

        Somethiung pretty close has already evolved here on Earth , the bombardier beetle Granted the beetle uses the exhaust like a flamethrower as a defence mechanism rather than for propulsion, but I imagine that in markedly lower gravity it might be good to assist short hops.

  13. OssianScotland

    The chances of anything coming from Mars...

    (Sorry, someone had to say it.... thank you, yes, the one with the heat ray in the pocket, please)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The chances of anything coming from Mars...

      I, for one, welcome our new rock overlords.

    2. Chris G

      Re: The chances of anything coming from Mars...

      Well they did find that spaceship full of grasshoppers when they were digging the London Underground.

      1. Mephistro

        Re: The chances of anything coming from Mars...

        Yes! The infamous "party hard" grasshoppers!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The chances of anything coming from Mars...

        I wasn't convinced, I mean, I don't live in London but I've never heard "Hobbs Lane" being mentioned as a Tube station when they were playing Mornington Crescent.

        1. jonathan keith

          Re: The chances of anything coming from Mars...

          That's because under the Micklewhite Convention you're no longer allowed to play it.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: The chances of anything coming from Mars...

            And that's due to the danger of anyone coming across the Martian spaceship. It all makes perfect sense.

  14. TheProf

    I'm convinced

    I'm going to believe him. There are dead insects on Mars.

    Ooh I feel so much better now. All the time I've spent getting myself worked-up over the loonies claiming everything is a conspiracy, and now I just kick-back and accept it all on face value.

    Wowzer! I feel so liberated. Of course the Earth is flat. Of course they never sent men to the Moon. Obviously Nazi flying saucers are hidden in the dark region at the top of the world. Err, assuming you roll the flat Earth into a cylinder.

    Hmm. This isn't going to be as easy as I first though.

    1. Imhotep

      Re: I'm convinced

      "Of course the Earth is flat."

      If you ever spent all day driving across Kansas, you'd be open to the possibility.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: I'm convinced

        I wonder how Kansas compares to the Lincolnshire Fens for flatness.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm convinced

          Having been to both places, it's pretty close.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Kubla Cant

          Re: I'm convinced

          I wonder how Kansas compares to the Lincolnshire Fens for flatness.

          Rather bigger, I suspect.

          It's initially impressive to learn that Denver* is the "mile-high city", but when you drive there from St Louis and find that it's just at the top of a thousand miles of very gradual slope, the magic goes out of it.

          * Colorado, that is. The original Denver, site of Denver Sluice, is probably the six-inch-high city.

  15. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

    Use the historical documentary evidence

    Spiders come from Mars. Spiders are not insects. Or did the spiders leave the other arthropods behind? Any word of the woodlice?

    Icon - Thin White Duke

    1. John Miles

      Re: Use the historical documentary evidence

      Quatermass and the Pit clearly shows insectoid creatures arrived from Mars some millions of years ago

      1. Hero Protagonist

        Re: Use the historical documentary evidence

        Renamed as Five Million Years to Earth in the US. Loved that movie!

      2. JPeasmould

        Re: Use the historical documentary evidence

        Ned Quatermass blew that theory in The Scarlet Capsule.

  16. GrumpenKraut

    A loss of marbles, I am afraid

    The people at the press/communication department of that Uni must have the worst days in their lives.

    If the Prof. had run this as a joke, that would be bloody brilliant!

  17. Rich 2 Silver badge


    I have no idea if the photo is that of an insect or not, but NASA have a very long history of completely ignoring stuff that looks interesting. There was that rock that looked like a fossil a few years back. Worth a better look maybe? Na! NASA decided to obliterate it with a drill instead. If you look round the web there are countless examples of things that have been seen on Mars and further afield that if they'd been spotted on Earth would have been immediately identified as what they are. But they're ignored by NASA, and (it has to be said) pretty much everyone else. Rocks on Mars that have decidedly unnatural features. There's what looks like a massively great bloody tower on a moon going round Saturn or Jupiter (can't remember which). The Russians took photos of Mars' moon Phobos and found some very odd stuff. And all this is ignored. The earth is estimated to be about 4 billion years old and man has been around for such a short part of that that we're statistical noise. History relating to advanced culture goes back (what?) 5 or 6 thousand years? If that. It seems perfectly feasible, indeed likely, that advanced civilisations preceded us. Maybe they blew themselves up like we're about to. I don't know. But it's foolish to dismiss the idea. And I think it's foolish to take a "Mars is dead" attitude rather than a "let's find out" attitude

    1. Francis Boyle

      i'm not going to downvote you

      but, sheesh, you're on a techie website and you don't have the slightest clue about how technical competence works.

    2. Mark192

      The problem is

      "NASA have a very long history of completely ignoring stuff that looks interesting."

      The problem is that, once some loon has gone 'this blurry low resolution photo shows a rock that looks like something else' the rover or satellite is doing something else.

      They're not going to stop their planned science to sate the curiosity of people that think a rock looks a bit like a... something.. if you squint and fill in the dark/blurred/pixelated bits with made up detail.

      One day soon, we'll be able to get a rover to these places cheap enough that the low-res picture enthusiasts will be able to self-fund it.

      Alternatively, we'll stumble across something that will legit blow our minds and funding will no longer be an issue :)

    3. dvhamme

      Re: Maybe

      I don't think NASA or any other space agency is taking a "Mars is dead" attitude. It's just that space agencies tend to be clued in on science, and science tell them that if there is life on Mars, our best bet to find it is to look for subtle biomarkers in geological samples and not by driving around looking for pyramids, towers or highways.

    4. Cuddles

      Re: Maybe

      "And I think it's foolish to take a "Mars is dead" attitude rather than a "let's find out" attitude"

      Yeah, if only they were spending billions on sending a variety of probes and rovers to look for signs of life...

      It's one thing to complain that someone is wrong in their interpretation of observations, but it's really a bit weird to complain that they're not even interested in finding out when you're commenting on an article about the latest robot they've sent for the specific purpose of finding out.

  18. Martin Gregorie

    Sanity check

    The lift of a wing depends on both the air density and the area of the wing. The atmospheric density on the Martian surface is about 1% of that a sea level on Earth, so all other things being equal, a flying Martian insect would need huge wings (100 times bigger) to fly at the same speeds as similar terrestrial insects or, since lift varies as the square of airspeed, would need to fly ten times as fast. So, even if Martian air could support insectile life, they would be unlikely to fly.

    Bottom line: any Martian insect is likely to have no wings and good legs, so if it doesn't look like an ant, centipede or a weta[1], it ain't a Martian insect.

    [1] flightless insect native to New Zealand:

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Sanity check

      Also, they'd probably need lungs. Terrestial insects "breath" by air passing through holes in their body, in the lower air pressure such passive ventilation wouldn't pass enough oxygen. They'd need a large thorax with hyper-efficient lungs, or some sort of aerial gill structure. I vaguely remember a scifi short story which hinged on this.

      1. Martin Gregorie

        Re: Sanity check

        I was only considering whether something like an insect could fly on Mars, not if an active multicellular beastie could live there, so you made a good point about respiration, but not an entirely relevant one, since the Martian atmosphere contains only trace amounts of oxygen: 99.82% of it is carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon.

        IOW, anything living there will necessarily have a metabolism that does not depend on oxygen. This means that anything living on Mars is probably similar to things that lived on earth before the Great Oxygenation Event, 2.4 billion years ago, i.e. single cell microorganisms. Microbial mats in caves may be a possibility but I wouldn't put money on finding them.

        Read Greg Benford's "The Martian Race" for what seems like a fairly realistic account of living on Mars, microbial mats and all.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Conspiracle theories!

        I vaguely remember a scifi short story which hinged on this.

        There's been a few. Plus rebuttals of various creature features like 'Them!' and it's giant ants. That scared me as a kid until the spiracle problem was explained and that insects would need a whole new way of breathing to become giant-sized. But that doesn't mean there couldn't be critters like in 'Legacy of Heorot' with their supercharging systems.

        I've also been watching the 'Mars' series on Netflix though. It's an interesting format blending fact, fiction and improbable occurences.. Part of which has been imaging/mapping challenges. Being a map junky, that fascinates me, along with trying to decide where to plonk any first Mars base. You are here, all the good stuff is there ->

        (I also like the idea of retro-future humanity, ie given the radiation challenges, going back to being cave dwellers.)

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Sanity check

      Don't forget that Martian gravity is about third of Earth's, so the wings would 'only' need to be thirty times bigger than a terrestrial insect, rather than 100.

  19. Winkypop Silver badge

    Just don't let these Mars insects get to our Moon

    They will eat all the cheese!

  20. SNAFUology
    Paris Hilton

    Fluffy Lambs

    I saw the story scroll by in the media I was reading but only read the story on theReg.

    I reckon it's a bit like spotting the image of a fluffy lamb in the clouds on your day off whilst lazing on the lawn looking skyward.

    No lambs were hurt and none live in the clouds, though theoretically it could be possible something that big could somehow exist there.

    Could life have existed on Mars, well yes, could a remnant dead or alive be sitting there ? possibly but, having a Mars rover just rumble by it would not likely be alive and still be there but would run off somethere. Then there's the dust storms and the like, I suppose they could cover as much as uncover remnants of life.

    So what happened to Mars well I reckon that the rift is like a cesarean scar, where something big gravitationally made Mars almost give birth to it's core, the winds and carbon dioxide then blew those over the area making it look waterish.

    Romans and others said it was specifically red and angry back in their day, Greeks described it as once being enveloped by Jupiter (Zeus/Deus after accreting Ouranos) but emerging. There is a possibility life may have existed on Mars at the time of the Neanderthals otherwise it's just a Martian Fluffy Lamb.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There is nothing there.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They will kill us...

    And they will eat us...

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: They will kill us...

      They'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And, if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order."

      1. Imhotep

        Re: They will kill us...

        Well, sure - if you're looking at the best possible scenario.

  23. dnicholas


    Ants, ANTS all over my body!

  24. Simon Harris

    Evidence of a higher life form.

    Looks more like Martian mouse poo to me.

  25. TeeCee Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    Wait and see.

    Not to find out if it's true, it's obvious cobblers, but whether there are still conspiracy loons moaning about the cover up in fifty years' time.

    I think that "faked moon landings" is still the yardstick by which tinfoil-hatted arsehattery is measured.

  26. tapemonkey


    Is it just me or does the first pic look like George Jetsons flying car

  27. Securitymoose

    It will be a mosquito

    The little blighters get everywhere. The moment we start terraforming will coincide in with the first alien mosquito bite as they revive. It wasn't loss of atmosphere that killed the martians, it was mosquitoes.

  28. a pressbutton

    Jeff Wayne

    ... my apologies

    The chances of anything living on Mars are a million to one, he said

    The chances of anything living on Mars are a million to one...

    But still, they live!

    1. tfewster

      Re: Jeff Wayne

      A million to one, he said?

  29. 0laf Silver badge

    If conspiracy theorists fund research he could be onto a winner

  30. Joe Gurman

    An insect?

    No, clearly a coprolite from something much larger.

    1. Chronos

      Re: An insect?

      A male bovoid, perhaps?

  31. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    The chances of anything...

    What are the chances of anything coming from Mars? "A million to one" he said.

  32. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    Sand Kings

    That is all.

  33. JohnG
    Black Helicopters

    Spiders from Mars

    So, that's what David Bowie was on about.

    I know the icon is supposed to be a black helicopter but it could be an insect, if the professor was looking at it.

  34. The Brave Sir Robin


    It's very clear it's a fucking rock.

    1. quxinot

      Re: Rock

      I only see the one. Doesn't it take two to tango?

      (Or more, if you're having an epic night!)

  35. Sartori

    It's clearly......

    .....a rock lobster, after all, there was a World War 2 bomber found on the moon, probably a B52, so it all makes perfect sense.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: It's clearly......

      Have you not seen Iron Sky?! It's the Nazis.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The article was withdrawn. . .

    "whereupon he was taken away, locked up, wrote a book and was finally sent into tax exile, which is the usual fate reserved for those who are determined to make fools of themselves in public."

    Douglas Adams nails it again.

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