The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Animals
True or False: Not all dogs can bark — In his 1930s newspaper column, John Harvey Furbay (aka The Debunker) wrote that it was a myth that all dogs can bark: "Barking seems to be an acquired trait in dogs, for their wild ancestors — probably wolves — could not bark, and some present-day species of dogs cannot bark. The Australian dog, called the dingo, is found both in the wild and in the domesticated states, and none of them is able to bark." — The Emporia Daily Gazette - February 25, 1935 Was he correct? When I came across his column and got curious about the question, I thought it would be easy enough to answer. But it… Continue…
Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2014.   Comments (3)

3000 tarantulas for sale? — There's a bit of a mystery on Reddit. Redditor "tcatron565" claims to have come across a post on Facebook from someone trying to sell 3000 tarantulas because their owner "is away" and the spiders are starving. These tarantulas need to find a home fast! Definitely an unusual situation, but is it for real? Impossible to say since there's no contact info, and tcatron565 hasn't offered any more details. But just in case it's not a hoax, the moderator of the spiders subreddit has offered to go to "great lengths" to find a home for the tarantulas. [via Daily Dot]
Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

Birboon, Schnowlzer, Laughing Hamstyna, etc. — California artist Sarah Derememer creates hybrid animals, such as the "birboon" (a cross between a baboon and a sparrow) as a way to improve her photoshop skills. [telegraph.co.uk]
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014.   Comments (0)

Rat Myth — According to myth, there's a 1:1 ratio of rats to people living in New York City. But Columbia University researcher Jonathan Auerbach determined that there's actually only 1 rat for every 4 people. [npr.org]
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (0)


Crabzilla — A photo of what appears to be a gigantic crab lurking in the waters of Whitstable harbour in Kent recently went viral, after first appearing on the Weird Whitstable website. Quinton Winter, who runs Weird Whitstable, asks, "Does this satellite photo of the harbour reveal a giant crab or unusual sand formation?" Unfortunately, the answer is neither. The correct response is that it's photo fakery. The original satellite image of the harbour, minus the crab, can be found on Bing Maps. So evidently someone (I'm assuming Winter) added the crab in. For the record, there are some… Continue…
Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Chicago River Hippo — The mystery of the Chicago River hippo has been solved. The hippo first came to the public's attention on September 15, when a video of it swimming in the Chicago River was posted to YouTube by "Chris O" (who had never posted anything to YouTube before). Two weeks later, this was followed by a second hippo video, now uploaded by "Matt ZB80." Again, it was Matt's first and only video. Pretty much everyone was skeptical of the idea that there really was a hippo loose in the Chicago River. The police noted that there were no reports of a wild animal in the river. And a… Continue…
Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2014.   Comments (0)

Making It Pleasant For The Horse, 1884 — A recent article by Barry Smith in the Elko Daily Free Press delves into the tall tales and hoaxes that were the hallmark of Nevada journalism in the late 19th century. Mark Twain is the best known of these Nevada journalist hoaxers. But another master of the art form was Sam Davis, creator of the apocryphal Wabuska Mangler, as well as inventor of a horse-raising horse cart. Smith explains: You may have passed through Wabuska on your way from Weeks to Weed Heights without realizing this tiny hamlet once had a feisty newspaper called the Mangler. Well, it didn’t. The Wabuska… Continue…
Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2014.   Comments (1)

Self-Castrating Beavers — As part of his ongoing "Fantastically Wrong" series at Wired.com, Matt Simon investigates the ancient legend that beavers will chew off their own testicles when pursued and throw them back at their pursuer, in this way making their escape. The legend was mentioned in Aesop's Fables and popped up in various works of natural history, until it was debunked in the 17th century by Sir Thomas Browne who pointed out that the testes of beavers don't hang outside their body. They're internal. So it would be difficult to chew them off, even if the beaver wanted to.
Posted: Thu Oct 02, 2014.   Comments (1)

Fake Pigeons — Brooklyn artist Tina Trachtenburg has created over 100 hand-sewn fake pigeons. She places these pigeons around town, creating "flashflocks". Apparently the real feral pigeons are dumbfounded by the fake ones. [boweyboogie.com]
Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

Are decapitated snakes still deadly? — True or False? Decapitated snakes can still inflict lethal bites. Unfortunately it's true. [Huffington Post]
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014.   Comments (1)

Shark in Lake Ontario — A video released last week showing a group of fishermen having an encounter with a shark in Lake Ontario has proven to be a hoax. The video was created by a company called Bell Media using a prosthetic model shark, as the company has admitted in a recent press release. It was "the first step of a multi-stage marketing campaign" to promote the Discovery Channel's Shark Week. Nissan is also involved in the hoax, since they're the ones sponsoring Shark Week. Apparently Nissan will have…
Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014.   Comments (0)

Missing: Pregnant Tarantula Named Penelope — On Thursday, someone posted flyers around Brooklyn alerting everyone that their pregnant red rump tarantula named Penelope had gone missing. "I know she looks crazy scary," the flyer said, "but she's mostly harmless." (Tarantulas definitely do look scary, but their bite really isn't that dangerous. It's comparable to a bee sting.) Anyway, Penelop's owner asked that if anyone found her, to put her in a "tupperware bowl" with holes and phone him. Naturally, these signs attracted quite a bit of attention. Someone even started a Twitter account in Penelope's honor. But last night,… Continue…
Posted: Sat Jul 12, 2014.   Comments (0)

Gigantic Tortoise Found on Mt. Etna — A video circulating on Italian news sites shows what appears to be a gigantic tortoise being transported on a truck. An accompanying story explains that this tortoise "of colossal dimensions" was found recently at the base of Mt. Etna. A helicopter full of Japanese tourists spotted the creature. At first they thought it was a large, dark rock, until they noticed it was moving. The helicopter pilot alerted the earthquake authorities, who arrived and discovered that it was a gigantic…
Posted: Wed May 14, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Jet Chicken of 1950 — In 1950, a very unusual UFO was reported by several people. Although UFO probably isn't the correct term to use in this case, because the flying object was identified, but it was identified as something very strange — a chicken flying at the speed of a jet. The sightings occurred in March around Toronto. Mrs. J. Wilson was visiting North Toronto from New York, and as she was driving around she saw, "a flying chicken dashing through the sky in a northeasterly direction with the speed of a jet plane." Mrs. Wilson's sighting was seconded by a "G. Fuller" who said he saw the creature… Continue…
Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2014.   Comments (0)

Alaska Wilderness Myths — The Tundra Drums details some myths and hoaxes about Alaska wildlife. For instance: Eagles do not actually snatch toddlers (they're too heavy). Nor are there any credible reports of eagles snatching up pet dogs. Eagles' talons do not involuntarily lock. They can let go if they want. But often they choose not to let go, even if a big fish is dragging them through the water. The 'majestic cry' of the eagle actually sounds more like a squeaky chirp. Which is why movies often dub in the call of the red-tailed hawk. Bears can run downhill. They can also climb trees very well. Lemmings… Continue…
Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2014.   Comments (0)

Kuppies, 1937 — Laura "Mom" Bedford, owner of a roadside barbecue stand in Miami, Fla., made headlines in March 1937 when she announced what appeared to be a biological miracle. Her maltese cat had given birth to three kittens and two puppies (aka "kuppies"). Bedford explained, "I didn't pay them any mind when they were born. I was too busy. I just looked in the box under the kitchen sink and saw what I thought were five black kittens. I figured they would be all right." But two days later, she heard something that "sounded like a dog crying." She examined the litter more closely and discovered… Continue…
Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Rock-Rolling Whitefish — The rock-rolling whitefish is a little-known species of fish, whose existence has only ever been reported (as far as I know) in the June 1932 issue of Montana Wild Life magazine. Discovery of this creature was credited to Jack Boehme, a manufacturer of fish tackle. Here's the information that Montana Wild Life offered about this unusual creature: It seems that this rock-rolling Montana whitefish extolled by Jack Boehme, and organized by a taxidermist of no mean versatility, is endowed with horns. Boehme declares, to all visiting dudes, that the specimen on display was caught in… Continue…
Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Snow Snake — The above photo has recently been circulating on social media purporting to show a "snow snake". A caption provides this warning: This is the deadly snow snake. It has bitten 3 people in the state of Ohio and one in Pennsylvania. It’s been spotted in other states. It comes out in the cold weather and at this time there is no cure for it's bite. One bite and your blood starts to freeze. Scientist are trying to find a cure. Your body temperature start to fall once bitten. Please stay clear if you have see it. Please forward this and try to save as many people as we can from this… Continue…
Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2014.   Comments (0)

Operation Cat Nip Confusion — In August 2011, hundreds of cats were rescued during a hoarding case, and then a team of veterinary students volunteered their time to spay and neuter the cats in order to prepare them for adoption. A photo of this mass spaying/neutering event (named Operation Cat Nip) ran in the Gainesville Sun. But about a year later that same photo began appearing on Twitter, stripped of any explanatory context, and accompanied by the caption: "Retweet if you say NO to animal testing." The…
Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014.   Comments (4)

The Wolf of Sochi — Another Jimmy Kimmel hoax. His crew built a replica of an Olympic Village dorm in their LA studio, then shot footage of a wolf wandering through its hallway. They had US luger Kate Hansen post the footage on YouTube, and to her Twitter account, claiming it was a wolf outside her room. A play on all the reports of stray dogs loose in Sochi. And, of course, the footage quickly went viral. The wolf was actually a North American timber wolf that Kimmel's crew hired (a rescue wolf named…
Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2014.   Comments (0)

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