A sanctuary on Mars for elephants spirited out of zoos by Bob Barker?
No, just the latest “face” seen in hi-res photos from Mars. This one is, in reality, a dried-up flood of lava from a a region of the Red Planet called the Elysium Planitia, which is the youngest (at least two and maybe ten million year old) flood-lava province on Mars.
"This is a good example of the phenomena ‘pareidolia,’ where we see things (such as animals) that aren’t really there," University of Arizona planetary geologist Alfred McEwen wrote in an update posted on the university’s HiRISE website.
McEwen and fellow astronomers aren’t sure if the lava flows on Mars were deposited quickly, or over a longer time period, as is mostly the case on Earth.
"An elephant can walk away from the slowly advancing flow front,” McEwen wrote, with tongue (or trunk) in cheek. “However, there is also evidence for much more rapidly flowing lava on Mars, a true flood of lava. In this instance, maybe this elephant couldn’t run away fast enough."
The elephant is not the first sign of life on Mars. Other famous discoveries include:
The Dog on Mars. Under the black arrow near bottom right. Looks like a poodle who somehow got buried up to her neck in the sand. Presumably the skull guy (blue arrows) was taking her for a walk when something not very good happened to both of them. (Maybe they were caught by Big/Littlefoot?)
… and, of course, the canals on Mars, as theorized by Percival Lowell when he looked at the Red Planet through the famous telescope he built at the Lowell Observatory under the clear skies of Flagstaff, Ariz., in 1894.
Altogether, lots of company for the elephant.