Image: NASA

Deep within Mauritania, there’s a vast and strange formation of rocks that looks almost like an enormous fossil sunken into the sands. The curious geological phenomenon bears a marked resemblance to a part of the human body, too, and this has earned it an appropriate nickname: the Eye of the Sahara. But this unusual dome – officially known as the Richat Structure – is special for more than its appearance. You see, it’s also the center of arguably one of the most divisive conspiracy theories of recent years.

Image: Elen11/Getty Images

Spanning a gargantuan 28 miles in diameter, the Richat Structure can be found in the sprawling expanses of the western Sahara. In these harsh environs, humans are few and far between, with most of Mauritania’s population living a good 300 miles away on the Atlantic coast. And altogether, it’s unusual for such a desolate and remote area to spark not only confusion and controversy, but also heated debate.

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