The April Fool Archive

Brunus edwardii    (April Fool's Day - 1972)

The April 1st, 1972 issue of the Veterinary Record, the weekly journal of the British veterinary profession, contained an article about the diseases of Brunus edwardii, which was described as a species "commonly kept in homes in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe and North America." The article warned:

Pet ownership surveys have shown that 63.8 percent of households are inhabited by one or more of these animals, and there is a statistically significant relationship between their population and the number of children in a household. The public health implications of this fact are obvious, and it is imperative that more be known about their diseases, particularly zoonoses or other conditions which might be associated with their close contact with man.

For months afterwards the correspondence section of the Veterinary Record was dominated by letters about Brunus edwardii, most of which offered new observations about the species. However, a few correspondents were outraged by the article, such as A. Noel Smith who wrote, "How three members holding sets of impressive degrees can waste their time writing such garbage in a journal that is the official publication of the B.V.A. is beyond my comprehension, as is your effrontery to publish it under 'Clinical Papers'."

It was reported that the British Library later had difficulty deciding how to classify the article, but the article proved so popular that it was eventually published in a special edition by Whittington Press.

The images below, which accompanied the article, illustrate some of the diseases of Brunus edwardii. They are (from left to right): 1) Alopecia, discoloration (very loved); 2) Torticollis and loss of limb; 3) A case of emotional disturbance, hypertension; 4) Attic bear and mice; 5) Lopsided squint.

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