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The Hoax Photo Archive — Photo Fakery Throughout History
Category: Animals
Cow on hood of car. (Jan 2013) This image achieved internet fame when, on 18 Nov 2013, the Surrey Roads Police department posted it on its twitter account accompanied by the message: "Remember as days get colder animals are attracted to the warmth of cars so check wheel arches or other hiding places." However, the image had been circulating since early 2013. Its creator is unknown. The cow on the hood of the BMW is, of course, a product of digital manipulation. More…
Angry Koala. (2012) This koala looks quite vicious, but in reality koalas do not have wolf-life jaws. The original photo of a wet koala (with its mouth shut) was taken in Jan 2009 by Flickr user Oz_drdolittle. It was hot so he had sprayed it with water. In 2012, someone digitally added wolf fangs to the koala, and the resulting image quickly went viral. More…
A Black Lion. (2012) It's biologically possible for lions to be black, and there have been reports of such creatures over the years. Although many of these reports may have been due to observation in poor light or strong sunlight behind the cat. However, the lion in this photo is not actually black. It's a white lion that was colored black through photo manipulation. The altered photo was posted on deviantart.com in early 2012 and quickly went viral. More…
Paper Tiger. (October 3, 2007) The South China tiger in this photo, a species feared to be extinct, turned out to be a paper cutout. More…
Hercules, the World’s Biggest Dog. (2007) The massive dog in this photo is not named Hercules. It hasn't been deemed World's Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Nor is it an English Mastiff. However, all this incorrect info often circulates with the image. The identity and owner of the dog remains unknown. Its size here is presumed to be a result of image manipulation. However, other images show the same dog massively large. So there's a chance the dog's size is genuine. More…
“Qinghai-Tibet railway opens green passage for wildlife”. (Published in 2006. Debunked in 2008.) This award-winning Chinese photo appeared to show the peaceful co-existence of antelope with a new high-speed train. Unfortunately the photo was a digital composite. More…
Modern-Day Diplocaulus. (Circulating online since late 2004) The mysterious creature in the bucket was actually a clay model, not a surviving prehistoric Diplocaulus. More…
Manitoba Home Security. (Found online in 2003) A digital composite makes it appear that polar bears are relaxing outside someone's house. More…
Helicopter Shark. (Circulating online since Aug 2001) Despite what this photo shows, a Great White shark has never attacked a helicopter in San Francisco Bay. More…
Pike Swallows Trout. (Jan 22, 2001) This award-winning photo was taken at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game aquarium in Anchorage. It was not photoshopped! More…
The Peppered Moth. (1955) The many biology textbooks that used this image did not reveal that the moths were dead and glued to the bark. More…
Whopper Hoppers. (circa 1935) Giant grasshoppers were particularly popular subjects for photo fakery during the 1930s. In this image, taken on a farm near Mitchell, South Dakota by an unknown photographer, three men struggle to subdue "the largest grasshopper in existence." The "whopper hopper" appears to have been a wooden model. More…
Mother Cat Stops Traffic. (July 29, 1925) The news photographer arrived too late to capture the original scene, so he convinced the policeman to recreate it. More…
Cat Drinks From a Bottle. (1911) Unfortunately there's not a lot of information on where this photo comes from. It's listed on the website of the French National Library as having been created in 1911 by the "Agence Rol." photo agency. It's an amusing example of early twentieth-century photo fakery. Included in the same series are photos titled "cat peers through binoculars" and "cat looks through a telescope." More…
William ‘Dad’ Martin’s Freak Postcards. (1909-1910) Martin made a fortune selling "freak" postcards that featured midwesterners interacting with oversized animals and vegetables. More…
Pacific Sea Monster. (1906) A group of men show off a sea serpent that washed up on the beach at Ballard, Washington. However, the "sea serpent" looks suspiciously like the trunk of a tree. More…
A Bear and its Hunters. (ca. 1900) A humorous example of a staged scene — a bear joins its hunters for a friendly group photo, somewhere in the Utah wilderness. More…
The Sympsychograph. (September 1896) David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University, published an article in Popular Science Monthly announcing the discovery of a new form of photography, "Sympsychography," that allowed mental images to be made visible on a photographic plate. This photo, he said, was an example. It was a psychic projection of "a cat in its real essence." He intended his article as a joke, but was surprised when many took it seriously. More…

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.