Consider this as Bigfoot Lunch Club's Public Service Announcement that April 1st is a fallacious day for discovering new cryptids.
#9: Hotheaded Naked Ice Borers
1995: Discover Magazine reported that the highly respected wildlife biologist Dr. Aprile Pazzo had found a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. These fascinating creatures had bony plates on their heads that, fed by numerous blood vessels, could become burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speeds. They used this ability to hunt penguins, melting the ice beneath the penguins and causing them to sink downwards into the resulting slush where the hotheads consumed them. After much research, Dr. Pazzo theorized that the hotheads might have been responsible for the mysterious disappearance of noted Antarctic explorer Philippe Poisson in 1837. "To the ice borers, he would have looked like a penguin," the article quoted her as saying. Discover received more mail in response to this article than they had received for any other article in their history.
#12: Flying Penguins
2008: The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It even offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet. Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they "spend the winter basking in the tropical sun." A follow-up video explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.
#14: The Body of Nessie Found
1972: On March 31 1972, a team of zoologists from Yorkshire's Flamingo Park Zoo, who were at Loch Ness searching for proof of Nessie's existence, found a mysterious carcass floating in the Loch. Initial reports claimed it weighed a ton and a half and was 15 ½ feet long. The zoologists placed the body in a van and began to transport it back to the zoo. However, the police chased down their truck and stopped it under a 1933 act of Parliament prohibiting the removal of "unidentified creatures" from Loch Ness. The body was then taken to nearby Dunfermline for examination. The discovery of the carcass received worldwide media attention. The British press dubbed it "Son of Nessie." But upon examination, Edinburgh scientists identified the creature as a bull elephant seal from the South Atlantic. The next day John Shields, Flamingo Park's education officer, confessed he had been responsible for the body. The bull elephant seal had died the week before at Dudley Zoo. He had shaved off its whiskers, padded its cheeks with stones, and kept it frozen for a week, before dumping it in the Loch and then phoning in a tip to make sure his colleagues found it. He had meant to play an April Fool's prank on his colleagues, but admitted the joke got out of hand when the police chased down their van.
#33: The Derbyshire Fairy
2007: In late March 2007, images of an 8-inch mummified creature resembling a fairy were posted on the website of the Lebanon Circle Magik Co. Accompanying text explained how the creature had been found by a man walking his dog along an old roman road in rural Derbyshire. Word of this discovery soon spread around the internet. Bloggers excitedly speculated about whether the find was evidence of the actual existence of fairies. By April 1 the Lebanon Circle website had received tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of emails. But at the end of April 1, Dan Baines, the owner of the site, confessed that the fairy was a hoax. He had used his skills as a magician's prop-maker to create the creature. Baines later reported that, even after his confession, he continued to receive numerous emails from people who refused to accept the fairy wasn't real.
#48: Tasmanian Mock Walrus
1984: The Orlando Sentinel featured a story about a creature known as the Tasmanian Mock Walrus (or TMW for short) that many people in Florida were supposedly adopting as a pet. The creature was said to be four inches long, resembled a walrus, purred like a cat, and had the temperament of a hamster. What made it such an ideal pet was that it never had to be bathed, it used a litter box, and it ate cockroaches. In fact, a single TMW could entirely rid a house of its cockroach problem. Reportedly, some TMWs had been smuggled in from Tasmania, and there were efforts being made to breed them, but the local pest-control industry was pressuring the government not to allow them into the country, fearing they would put cockroach exterminators out of business. Dozens of people called the paper trying to find out where they could obtain their own TMW. A picture of a Tasmanian Mock Walrus accompanied the article. Skeptics noted that the creature looked surprisingly similar to a Naked Mole Rat.
#66: Smaugia Volans
The April 1, 1998 online edition of Nature Magazine revealed the discovery of "a near-complete skeleton of a theropod dinosaur in North Dakota." The discovery was referred to in an article by Henry Gee discussing the palaeontological debate over the origin of birds. The dinosaur skeleton had reportedly been discovered by Randy Sepulchrave of the Museum of the University of Southern North Dakota. The exciting part of the discovery, according to the article, was that "The researchers believe that the dinosaur, now named as Smaugia volans, could have flown." In actuality, the University of Southern North Dakota does not exist, though it has been made famous by Peter Schickele who refers to it as the location where the music of the obscure eighteenth-century composer PDQ Bach was first performed; Smaug was the name of the dragon in Tolkein's The Hobbit; and Sepulchrave was the name of the 76th Earl of Groan in Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan. This Earl, believing that he was an owl, leapt to his death from a high tower, discovering too late that he could not fly.
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Fictitious Creatures of April Fool's Day
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