Feb 22, 2023 I Nick Redfern

The "Charlton Heston Phenomenon": Lost and Ruined, Ancient Civilizations

It's no secret I'm a big believer in the theory there was once a Martian civilization; a civilization that is now long gone. All we have left is a body of strange, ancient items strewn across the floor of Mars - and that's it. Not at all unlike what we see in the final moments of the 1968 movie, Planet of the Apes, the Martian landscape appears, to me, to be littered with evidence of what was once at least one or several sprawling cities, but all now rendered pulverized and flattened. And a civilization collapsed. In the movie, such a city would turn out to be New York, as the presence of a ruined and pummeled Statue of Liberty makes abundantly and graphically clear. That’s when Charlton Heston’s astronaut character, "Taylor," learns to his sudden horror that he is not on a faraway world, after all, but on Earth, thousands of years after the human race has all but decimated our world and its people. There’s another parallel with that classic movie, too. It concerns one of the primary characters in Planet of the Apes, Dr. Zaius, the Minister of Science. He has spent much of his life terrified by the possible revealing of the true history of the ape planet. Namely, that we, the human race, came first and that, in terms of technology, we were once far ahead of the apes’ society. Zaius’s fear is that opening the equivalent of Pandora’s Box will cause chaos in the world of the apes. So, he takes the only option he thinks is viable: Zaius buries everything, just in case, even if he’s not fully sure of what went on before his civilization emerged. In other words, Zaius knew of an ancient, advanced human civilization. Such scenarios may have occurred in the real world. And on Mars, no less.

(NASA) A "Mars-Henge"? It just might be

Now, let us take a careful look at some of the other imagery that has been collected, studied and placed into the public domain as evidence that there was (and possibly still is) life on Mars. One particular case - that I personally think has a high degree of merit attached to it - concerns what has become known as the “Face-Hugger photograph.” Taken in July 2015 by NASA’s Curiosity Rover, it appears to show a strange creature that looks astonishingly like the monstrous face-invading creatures that appear in the phenomenally successful series of Alien movies. They starred Sigourney Weaver as Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley and reaped in an incredible amount of dollars. The story broke in early August 2015. The headlines were predictably sensational. The U.K.’s Metro newspaper ran with the story and titled their feature as follows: “Crab-like alien ‘facehugger’ is seen crawling out of a cave on Mars.” The article included the words of Seth Shostak, a skeptic when it comes to the matter of life on Mars, and the Senior Astronomer and Director of the Center for SETI Research; “SETI” standing for “search for extraterrestrial intelligence.” Shostak said of the strange looking thing and other allegedly anomalous photos that reach him from time to time: “Those that send them to me are generally quite excited, as they claim that these frequently resemble something you wouldn’t expect to find on the rusty, dusty surface of the Red Plane. It’s usually some sort of animal, but occasionally even weirder objects such as automobile parts. Maybe they think there are cars on Mars.”

On the other side of the coin were the words of Scott Waring who, at UFO Sightings Daily, said that: “It does appear alive. It may be a crab-like animal, or it also may be a plant. This object has many arms and one of them goes to the left of the picture a very long ways. That arm is longer than all others. Plant or animal it really doesn't matter. The significance of this is that it shows signs that it is alive. That is everything, but not to NASA.” And, that’s pretty much how the online debate went on: for the world of science the face-hugger was nothing but an example of pareidolia. UFO seekers and conspiracy theorists said otherwise, suggesting that what looked like an eerie, creepy animal was exactly that – an eerie, creepy animal. That it appeared to be in the opening to a small cave and maneuvering up (or, granted, scuttling down) the cave wall with its multiple limbs only seems to add to the theory that NASA had captured on camera a genuine Martian animal – and a very hair-raising one, too! In my view, the spidery, crab-like animal is not a case of the eye seeing what it sorely wants to see. And, the story isn’t quite over: later on, we’ll take a close and careful look at the incredible story of a skilled remote-viewer who, in late 2019, was able to add further, and undeniably astonishing, data to this particular story of the closest things to real-life face-huggers. 

Now, what about Mars’ very own dolphin? Say what? Yes. Or not. This is one of the examples that I find difficult-to-impossible to believe is anything but a mark on the landscape that just happens to appear dolphin-like. Which, admittedly, it does. That it is located not at all far from the Face on Mars has ensured that it still provokes debate and commentary. But, it really shouldn’t. A carved dolphin? Not a chance in Hell. Forget it. Moving on, there is what has been termed “The Crowned Face.” A photo taken in the Libya Montes area – a ring of mountains on Mars - by the Mars Global Surveyor appears to show a large face, with a pointed chin, a pair of eyes and a nose. Also, what appears to be crown-like headgear - hence the name that has been attached to it, – whatever “it” may be. On this one, I can go both ways: I’m not convinced that it shows evidence of huge, mega-sculpting of the landscape. On the other hand, I definitely think it is well worth tackling this enigma to a greater degree; if only to relegate it to the “maybe”-box. I should stress, though, that Mars expert Tom Van Flandern was quite enthusiastic about the discovery: “While not near the Cydonia area, this face portrayal is again striking for the richness of its detail, far better than the typical face arising in clouds or geological formations on Earth. The latter tend to be distorted and grotesque when they are more than simply impressionistic.”

“Dinosaur skulls” on Mars don’t impress me in the slightest. I have yet to see one that really jumps out at me. There are a few of them, again captured by NASA’s cameras, but I am not persuaded here. That said, there is one skull-like item that I find very interesting. Obtained by NASA’s Spirit, the photo does appear to show a large skull on the rocky, desert floor of Mars. One can see a pair of eye-sockets. Moreover, those same sockets seem to be in perfect alignment with each other. A nose and nostrils, a robust jaw, and even the vague outline of a bony mouth are all in evidence. The skull is clearly somewhat different to a regular, human skull, in the sense that it seems to be much bulkier. If the anomaly is what it appears to be – the skull of a Martian - it’s hardly likely to look exactly the skull of a member of the Human Race! There is something else too: what look like a pair of protrusions – or what Mike Bara refers to as “jowl-like appendages” – situated around the chin area. They look as if they could inflict serious injury if one got too close. Now, we come to a story that practically circled the globe in 2008. It provoked sensational comments, controversial observations, and wild conclusions. The story suggested that nothing less than the ancient statue of a man wearing a robe, or a woman wearing a long dress – and with one arm poking out - could be seen on the Martian landscape. Also, the statue appeared to be in a sitting position, taking a break from whatever it is that the average Martian does on the average Martian day. It was a story that was picked up by not just the blogs of UFO researchers, but by the likes of CNN, the BBC, and Reuters. And the initial data seemed to be impressive. It would not stay like that.

Ben Radford, of the Skeptical Inquirer, and someone who has yet to see an anomaly that he cannot explain, said: “According to astronomer Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy Web site, if the image really is a man on Mars, he’s awfully small: ‘Talk about a tempest in a teacup!’ Plait said: ‘The rock on Mars is actually just a few inches high and a few yards from the camera.’” Plait was correct: despite the extensive coverage that the story got, very few media outlets pointed out that the figure was indeed barely a few inches tall and that the Spirit – which secured the image – was actually extremely close to the “figure” when the photo was taken. Just about all of the reproductions of the photo made it appear as if the viewer was looking at a large object, or a human-sized figure, in the distance. 

Mike Bara had an answer for this: he theorized that the admittedly-eerie-looking figure was an ancient, Martian artifact of small proportions. To bolster his argument, Bara showed examples of equally small, carved figures of the Egyptian pharaoh, Khufu. A very small Martian humanoid taking a break on a rock? A tiny piece of rock that seemed to resemble a living being? A carefully fashioned, small statue of the type that Mike Bara offered as a potential answer to the controversy? The questions are several. The answers, however, depend very much upon your own, personal perspective. And still on the matter of perspectives: if only the mainstream media had made it abundantly clear from the beginning that what we were seeing was nowhere near a life-sized figure - but something around the size of a kid’s toy soldier - we would not still be debating on this issue years down the line. And a significant portion of this article could have been seamlessly omitted.

(NASA) Not the Face on Mars. This one is called the Crowned Face. That's two faces on Mars

I sometimes ponder on the possibility that some of our scientists - not unlike Dr. Zaius in their mindsets - might be fearful of what the ramifications could be if history is changed by the opening of that aforementioned box. So, rather like the person who wakes up one morning and finds a lump under one of their armpits, and who refuses to go to the doctor for fear of what they might learn, the truth is ignored, with a hope that it will go away. But, it doesn’t go away. It just piles up more and more. Maybe, that’s how things are with NASA: a case of: "If we forget about the Face on Mars we won’t have to deal with it." But, it’s clearly not going away. Nor are the many other anomalies that are scattered across the Red Planet.

Of course, I can't prove any of this; but, based on what we've seeen so far, I really do have a deep belief that Mars really was once a sprawling, beautiful world. And, at some point in its "life" Mars was all but destroyed. Whether the destruction came by something like a comet or a huge meteorite, I really don't know. Maybe, the Martians went to war with each other and, as a result, they destroyed themselves. If you look at all of the many and varied anomalies that can be seen on the surface of Mars, it's very hard to dismiss all the oddities on the planet: such as the "Marshenge." But, there is something else, too: these connections, in many respects, seem to link with our world in some ways - albeit thousands of years ago. Did Mars and our world once have a connection? If so, did it turn into a planetary war. Such a thing, in my view, is entirely possible. Let's hope nothing like that happens to us.

NOTE: NASA is an arm of the U.S. Government. Therefore, the two photos included in this article are in the public domain

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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