The New York Times is having a strange day.
This afternoon, the prominent newspaper published an article making a surprising claim about exobiology: that watermelons had been discovered on Mars.
“Authorities say rise of fruit aliens is to blame for glut of outer space watermelons,” read the story, which was deleted less than an hour later, according to a partial cache of its contents on Google News. “The FBI declined to comment on reports of watermelons raining down, but confirmed that kiwis have been intercepted.”
An archived snapshot of the story shows that the story was just a stub.
“This story is terribly boring,” it read.
The byline on the story was unfamiliar, attributing the report to “Joe Schmoe.”
The article quickly disappeared and was replaced by a message saying it had been “published in error.”
After this story initially ran, a New York Times spokesperson provided some clarity about the strange article.
“Earlier today, a mock article intended for a testing system was published on our site in error,” she said. “The article has since been removed.”
In other words, it sounds as though the article appeared as some sort of content management system test that was accidentally made public.
Needless to say, there is no currently-available evidence of watermelons, or any other life, on the Red Planet.
However, several NASA missions and a rover sent by China are all investigating the possibility of ancient life on our planetary neighbor, and scientists say it is possible that microbial life still lives there, likely deep under the surface.
If there’s any evidence of fresh produce on the Red Planet, though, it’s not yet publicly available.
Updated with additional details.
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