Slithering formations found at the bottom of impact crater on Mars. What are they?

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA continues to find things in its exploration of Mars and the latest resembles horrific sand worms that were scorched to death while emerging from an ancient crater.

A photo of the formations was recently shared by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, which set out to learn if the planet ever had “the right environmental conditions” to host life.

The rover spotted the twisted structures in the Gale Crater, “a large impact basin” created 3.7 billion years ago by a large meteor.

“Evidence points to Gale Crater (and Mars in general) as a place where life — if it ever arose — might have survived for some time,” NASA says.

So what are the strange formations?

Media reports in recent weeks have referred to them as “spikes,” including a CNET article that noted “If Dr. Seuss sculpted Mars, it would look like this.”

Commenters on social media have offered up their best guesses, including a “lightning strike on sand,” fossilized roots, a representation of a Hindu snake god Naga Devta and the protruding legs of a “dead alien.”

One person even suggested it might count as a miniature recreation of the crucifixion.

The SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) does not believe the formations were ever alive, though movement was involved in its theory.

”The spikes are most likely the cemented fillings of ancient fractures in a sedimentary rock. The rest of the rock was made of softer material and was eroded away,” the institute reported in a tweet.

So, the discovery is sort of like a smaller version of the Devil’s Tower in the Black Hills of Wyoming — only at the bottom of an ancient crater on an distant planet.

The explanation makes perfect sense, but it hasn’t convinced all the skeptics, who note NASA found what looked like the door to a tomb in May, which followed the decades-old discovery of something akin to a carved face half buried on Mars.

“I’m telling y’all, first the face formation, then the door, now this. Something is up there,” one person wrote on Twitter.

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