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2 December 2008, JellyBean @ 7:13 am

Other museums might have more or flashier items to display. But only the mini-museum of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation can boast of possessing such an other-world oddity as the monkey from Mars.

In Atlanta 1953, young barbers Edward Watters and Tom Wilson, along with butcher Arnold Payne, took a dead rhesus monkey and removed its tail, applied large doses of hair remover and used green food coloring to make the corpse of the monkey appear abnormal. They then used a blow torch to create a burning circle in the pavement.

Officer Sherley Brown came across the scene by accident and was told by the hoaxers that they had seen many creatures just like it.

The barbers, Edward Watters and Tom Wilson, and the butcher, Arnold “Buddy” Payne, told the policeman they came upon a red, saucer-shaped object in the road that night. They said several 2-foot(60-centimeter)-tall creatures were scurrying about and the trio hit one with their pickup before the others jumped back in the saucer and blasted skyward – leaving the highway scorched.


Brown took down the strange account and filed a report at police headquarters before going home.

Before long the place was in an uproar and the ‘discovery spread like wildfire.

“They had the Air Force and everybody else trying to find out about it,” said Brown, since retired in 1985.

The prank was played at the height of UFO hysteria in the United States. As a result, the Atlanta Police Department received constant phone calls after news of the story broke, with multiple residents adamant they had seen the flying saucer that the pranksters described. The situation was propelled further when a veterinarian agreed that the animal was not from Earth. The United States Air Force was also called in to investigate.

The hoax was discovered hours after the event by Dr. Herman Jones and Emory University anatomy professor Dr. Marion Hines. They found that the anatomy of the creature was identical to that of a monkey and Hines is quoted as saying “If it came from Mars, they have monkeys on Mars.”

Where the men got the monkey is not clear. Wilson, Payne and Watters eventually admitted to the hoax. Watters was made to pay a $40 fine “for obstructing a highway.”

The Martian Monkey is now on display in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation mini-museum, along with other notable items, such as an illegal moonshine still and the fibers that solved the Atlanta child murders. The exhibit is showcased along with the news report that was published at the time.

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