A specimen whose head appears to have turned in the direction of the camera. Based on the scale provided in the photo from which this was extracted, this individual is estimated to be approximately 20 inches long.
Credit: Analysis by Dr. William Romoser

From Ohio University:  “Aw, Nuts! We’re having trouble locating the page you requested. There may be a typo in the URL, or the page may have been moved or deleted.”

From AAAS and EurekAlert!: “This release has been removed at the request of the submitter.”

These actions were stirred up by researcher William Romoser, Emeritus Professor of Medical Entomology at Ohio University.

The uproar stems from Romoser’s poster paper “Does Insect/Arthropod Biodiversity Extend Beyond Earth?,” presented during this month’s conference of the Entomological Society of America, held in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ohio University also issued a press release on the professor’s work, “Ohio University entomologist: Photos show evidence of life on Mars” – now pulled from the university’s website.

Putative fossil insect on its dorsum with head to the top, and with selected structures labelled. Credit: Analysis by Dr. William Romoser

Ample evidence

Romoser’s abstract for his poster explains:

“There is ample evidence to answer the question posed by the title in the affirmative. For several years, I have been engaged in study of the NASA-JPL photographs transmitted to Earth from the surface vehicles sent to explore Mars, Curiosity Rover in particular. These photos are available to the public via the internet. In this poster, I present and discuss numerous examples of insect/arthropod-like forms (fossil & living) found in Mars rover photos. Examples include insect-like forms displaying apparent diversity, clearly recognizable insect/arthropod anatomical features, and flight. Evidence of a fossil reptile-like (serpentine) form and reptile-like forms preying on insect-like forms is also presented. Each example is documented. These findings provide a compelling basis for further study and raise many important questions.”

Identifiable life forms

“This is the first professional report of direct evidence of identifiable life forms beyond the confines of Earth,” Romoser explained, offering images that appear to capture fossilized and living, insect-like organisms.

“The presence of higher metazoan organisms on Mars implies the presence of nutrient/energy sources and processes, food chains and webs, and water as elements functioning in a viable, if extreme, ecological setting sufficient to sustain life,” Romoser explained.

William Romoser, Emeritus Professor of Medical Entomology at Ohio University.
Credit: Ohio University

Astroentomology

“Given evidence for the presence of insect/arthropod-and reptile-like organisms beyond the confines of Earth,” Romoser said, “perhaps ‘astroentomology’ and ‘astroherpetology’ will emerge as important topics within the field of astrobiology.”

Romoser has said that while any given image does not in itself prove anything, “I believe the mosaic of what I have described is compelling.” Furthermore, “I view the research reported here to be replicative and corroborative. It is very clear that much more study of the photos is needed. The information presented here barely scratches the surface.”

Responding to an Inside Outer Space query: “Dr. Romoser no longer wishes to engage with media regarding this research, so we have opted to remove the story from our website and EurekAlert,” explained Jim Sabin, Media Relations Manager at Ohio University.

Credit: Analysis by Dr. William Romoser

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