Archaeologists say five stones with faces carved into them - which have been ignored for decades after being found in Massachusetts - could be prehistoric relics.
Joseph Sinnott, a geologist, poses with a stone face /AP
The flat-backed stones with sunken eye sockets and gaping mouths carved into them were stowed in bowling ball bags, left in barns or fashioned into candle holders by those who found them in the woods of central Massachusetts.
Archaeologists and antiquity researchers throughout New England are examining whether the stones were sculpted by American Indians, prehistoric settlers or pranksters.
"I'm not saying I know who made these," said geologist Joseph Sinnott. "I'm looking for information on who made them. Nobody I've spoken to has ever seen anything like these."
When Sinnott saw the first face, he wasn't too impressed. The 16-pound (7.2-kilogram) rock was given to him two years ago by a Southbridge man who said he found it in 1991 near the Quinebaug River. He took the rock in a bowling ball bag to Sinnott's house in Worcester, and said he could take the geologist to the spot where it was first picked up.
The outing turned up no new evidence, and Mr Sinnott shrugged off the stone as a curiosity not worth pursuing.
But a year later, Sinnott found himself staring at a second stone face in the possession of another Southbridge man.
"After seeing two, I thought we had something worth showing the public," he said.
Three more stones - all chunks of granite weighing between six and 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) that were found within eight miles of each other - have been turned over to him since stories about the faces appeared in local newspapers. He recently received a call from a woman who said she found a sixth in nearby Brookfield.