(Photo : REUTERS/Reuters TV)
Iran's announcement of successfully launching a monkey into space earlier in the week drew a wide range of skepticism, and now even more experts are poking holes in the country's report.
Images from a press conference began circulating recently that showed the monkey after its return to Earth looking noticeably different than photos of the monkey Iran released prior to launch.
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"The monkey triumphantly presented to the nation's media in his own silk tuxedo appeared markedly different to the creature that was pictured strapped into a rocked prior to its launch into space. That animal had light fur and a distinctive red mole over its right eye. But the monkey that returned was dark haired and had no mole," the Telegraph reported.
"Dismissing as remote the possibility that space flight had a dramatic physical affect on the Iranian monkey, international observers have concluded that either the original animal died in space or that the launch-timed to coincide with the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution-simply never took place," the Telegraph said.
Indeed, numerous experts have come forward casting doubt on Iran's launch.
"It looks like a very different monkey, the nose, the features, everything is different," Yariv Bash, founder and CEO of nonprofit Space Israel, 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."
The monkey in the first pictures released by Iran appears to have light fur and a distinctive mole above its right eye. However, the pictures of the monkey released after returning to Earth, which the country unveiled at a press conference, show a monkey with darker fur, and with no mole. Although, as the Huffington Post notes, it's possible the differences are due to different lighting and angles.
Some, like the Atlantic Wire's David Wagner, are convinced the photographic evidence speaks for itself:
"This side-by-side comparison really reminds us of those before-and-after ads on the subway that show how easy losing weight can be-when you're able to morph into a completely different person."
Michael Elleman, an Iranian missile expert, was similarly incredulous, telling The Sun that there was no independent confirmation that the launch ever occurred in the first place.
When asked by Buzz Feed if he thought Iran actually launched a monkey into space, Henry Hertzfeld, a George Washington University professor and former NASA policy analyst was also doubtful of the mission's success.
"Probably not. I wouldn't believe it yet, but I'm not saying they couldn't," he said.