On Monday, Iran proudly announced to the world that it had launched a monkey into space and successfully brought it back to Earth alive. But something is amiss: Upon further inspection, it appears the monkey that returned from space doesn't match the monkey that left. Images newly released from a press conference prior to the launch show a monkey with light fur and a conspicuous red mole above its eye. The mole is mysteriously missing on the monkey that returned, which also has notably darker hair.
"It looks like a very different monkey, the nose, the features, everything is different," Yariv Bash, founder of a nonprofit working to send an unmanned Israeli spaceship to the moon, told The Telegraph. "This means that either the original monkey died from a heart attack after the rocket landed or that the experiment didn’t go that well."
Of course, the other option is that "the Islamic republic's space breakthrough was a rather poorly staged fake," says Josh Voorhees at Slate. So did Iran make the whole thing up? It's definitely possible. Even if we look past the discrepancies between the two animals, no one outside of Iran could confirm the rocket launch. Very few details were released, and it was shown only on state-run television.
The space mission had been a cause for concern, since a successful launch would have indicated that Iran had made progress in developing potentially dangerous long-range missiles. If the launch never happened at all, officials in the West would certainly breathe a sigh of relief.