Mars Fish Fossil? NASA Curiosity Rover Finds ‘Greatest Discovery’ isn’t Real

November 14, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

A viral article that says NASA’s Curiosity Rover discovered a “fish fossil” on Mars isn’t true.

It was posted on a fake webiste called MSNBC.website (not the real MSNBC site) before it was taken down.

“Scientists believe the images, which seem to show the fossilized remains of a fish-like creature, are definitive proof of the Red Planet’s supported life from millions of years ago,” it reads. NASA officials have named the fish-like fossil, ‘The Roman Red Fish,’ after Mars, the Roman god of war and the planet’s nickname “Red Planet. The awesome discovery is the most significant proof of life since the Mars rover’s analyzation of rocks back in March that concluded Mars was capable of supporting life in the distant past, according to scientists.”

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Artist's impression of the European Space Agency (ESA) probe Rosetta with Mars in the background. A European comet-chasing spacecraft is set for a nail-biting close encounter this weekend with Mars. The billion-euro (1.3-billion-dollar) probe Rosetta will come within 250 kilometers (156 miles) of the Red Planet's surface, using Martian gravity to correct its course in one of the longest and costliest treks in the history of unmanned space exploration. The European Space Agency (ESA) probe, launched in March 2004, is designed to rendezvous with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 after a voyage of 7.1 billion kilometers (4.4 billion miles). It will send a refrigerator-sized lab, called Philae, to the comet's surface to investigate the rock's chemistry. (C. Carreau/ESA/AFP/Getty Images)
Artist’s impression of the European Space Agency (ESA) probe Rosetta with Mars in the background. (C. Carreau/ESA/AFP/Getty Images)

The article is currently down but it can be accessed via Google’s Webcache. It has a few thousand shares and likes on Facebook as of Friday.

As hoax-debunking site Snopes points out, “The article quoted ‘Dr. Elle Stafon’ as saying the Mars fish fossil was the ‘greatest discovery we’ve ever found.’ NASA’s does have a Chief Scientist named Ellen Stofan, but the discovery to which she was purportedly speaking was totally fabricated, as was the comment attributed to her.

“The site from which it originated was not (as many were led to believe) MSNBC, but rather ‘MSNBC.website,’ a fake news outlet with a deliberately misleading web address.”

The fake site also has a Photoshopped image that was really taken on Mars. It shows a “fossil,” which isn’t really there.

“In the original unmanipulated photo, it’s clear that no fossil is present. MSNBC.website is one of a growing number of fake news websites spreading sensational, made-up stories on social media outlets — including a recent death hoax involving actor Macaulay Culkin,” the site says.