footage from Iran's state-run English languag
footage from Iran's state-run English languagReuters

Iran's recent announcement that it had successfully sent a monkey into space stirred questions on the Internet, with people pointing to differences between official images of the primate before takeoff and after landing, AFP reported.

On January 28, official Iranian media published pictures of a monkey named Pishgam (Pioneer) prior to the launch. The animal had light grey fur and a red mole above its right eye.

Later, however, the ISNA news agency released photos taken while presenting the monkey to the press after its landing which showed a darker fur and no mole.

Western media, questioning the success of the monkey space mission, highlighted the differences, noting that the regime had previously failed its previous attempt to send a primate into space in 2011.

On Facebook, a comment underneath the monkey's pictures reads: the monkey "went into space and met a doctor who removed its mole," an ironic reference to some Iranians passion for cosmetic surgery, according to AFP.

While Iranian authorities did not directly respond to the questions, two websites close to the regime, Rajanews and Nasimonline, have said that the monkey images available to the media before the launch were "archive" images of the failed 2011 launch.

The monkey presented to the press after the sub-orbital flight, however, was the one that successfully completed the mission, the sites claimed, without citing sources.

Neither Iranian site gave any explanation why the reputed archive pictures were used by the media.