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Animals
The latest internet meme is Sewer Horse: "Sewer Horse is Watching You"



I have no explanation for the image. Is it real or fake? I haven't got a clue. It seems a bit unlikely that a horse would end up in a sewer, but then he could be in a large underground tunnel that has an opening he's looking out of. Sewer Horse is so popular that he even has his own website.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 17, 2008
Comments (12)
I'm not sure if this is a prank, or just a case of bizarre willfulness. Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut warned a father and daughter not to bring their horse to school. They brought it anyway, so the school has charged them with breach of peace. From nbc30.com:

Police were called Friday morning when a Westport man and his daughter walked a horse onto the campus of Staples High School, police said. School officials became concerned when a large group of students gathered near the horse and reported it, police said.
School officials had previously warned the family not to bring the horse onto school property and became concerned about the safety of students, police said.
Security personnel at Bedford Middle School in Westport told the father and daughter not to enter the campus with the horse but they entered the property and continued to walk to the high school, police said.

It would be a prank to lock a cow or some other animal inside a school building. But in this case it seems like the father and daughter just really wanted to show off their horse. One hundred years ago it would have been quite normal to ride your horse to school.
Categories: Animals, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 10, 2008
Comments (6)
He looks too big to be real, but apparently he genuinely is a giant cow. His name is Chilli, and he lives at the Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Somerset. From the Daily Mail:

Chilli dwarfs most horses, is the same height as a small elephant and casts a shadow over his cattle companions who are about 5ft in height
"He now stands at 6ft 6ins from the floor to the top of his shoulder and he is massive when he holds his head up.
"We have made an application to Guinness Book Of Records and we are quite confident he will get it."

Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Fri May 30, 2008
Comments (21)
In an email with the subject "Giant Fish - Caught in Malaysia? Apparently...," Joshua Penley asks: "What the HELL is this?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!"



This sounds like a question for Big Gary, the museum's Deputy Curator in Charge of Fish. I would simply note that the guys in the photos don't look particularly Malaysian, making it a case of "real picture, fake caption."

The bottom picture reminds me of a picture of a (fake looking) sea monster, taken in 1906 on the beach at Ballard, Washington and now part of the Library of Congress's collection:

Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu May 15, 2008
Comments (18)
I recently received a nice letter from a reader in England:

Dear Mr. Boese,
I have enjoyed the Museum of Hoaxes greatly. I do not know if you want any more examples, but if not just throw this away.
The Veterinary Record is the weekly journal of the Veterinary Profession, and I did the index for 36 years. So on 1st April 1972 I met some observations on the diseases of Brunus edwardii (Species Nova), Vet. Rec. (1972) 90, 382-395. It reads like a perfectly authentic scientific paper though the illustrations give the game away. So I suppose it does not really qualify as a hoax. I understand that the British Library had some difficulty with the classification! But the authors had great fun doing it. If you would be interested to see the text I will send you a photocopy. I am not a vet but a librarian, understandably retired at 92! With all good wishes for 2008.
Yours sincerely,
M.M. Raymer

After debating whether or not to throw away her letter (of course not!), I decided to drive up to UCSD, where I hunted down the Veterinary Record (UCSD has a complete run of it), and made a copy of the article.

The article does describe, in a dry, scientific fashion, the diseases of Brunus edwardii, which is described as a species "commonly kept in homes in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe and North America." The article warns that: "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."

The pictures do give the joke away:



For months afterwards the correspondence section of the Veterinary Record was dominated by letters about Brunus edwardii. A few readers were outraged by it, such as A. Noel Smith who wrote:

I have been practising veterinary medicine for the past 12 years or more "across the pond" and my Veterinary Records arrive a month or more late. However, I still open them with interest and read what is going on "at home". April 1st's edition thoroughly soured my interest. 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".

But most of the correspondents loved it. It proved so popular that it was eventually published in a special edition by Whittington Press.

Anyway, thanks to M.M. Raymer for the reference.
Categories: Animals, Science
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 30, 2008
Comments (14)
PETA recently offered a $1 million reward to the first company that can produce In Vitro meat in commercially viable quantities by 2012. (AussieBruce posted about it in the forum.)

But Daniel Engber, writing for Slate.com, explains why PETA's prize has so many strings attached that it's basically a bogus offer.

1) According to the contest guidelines, the fake-meat must be sold in stores to qualify for the prize. Engber writes: "Fake-chicken entrepreneurs have to demonstrate a "commercial sales minimum" at a "comparable market price"; in plain English, they need to move 2,000 pounds of the stuff at supermarkets and chain restaurants spread out across 10 states during a period of three months. And the Franken-meat can't cost more than regular chicken."

2) This is an impossible condition to meet, since the FDA would have to approve the fake-meat before it could be sold in stores. And there's no way a product like this could be invented and make it through the FDA's approval process in the next four years. The FDA review process itself typically takes years to complete.

So don't expect anyone to win PETA's prize.

I'm still waiting for those "Meat Trees" (genes from cattle spliced into the reproductive cells of grapefruit trees) described by the Weekly World News back in 2003 to become a reality. (Thanks, Christopher)
Categories: Animals, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 24, 2008
Comments (10)
Neil Steinberg's classic advice about college pranks was that "If at all possible, involve a cow." The zebra (named Barcode) that was found locked inside Seney Hall at Georgia's Emory University this morning is a novel substitute. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Campus police were still trying to find out who put the zebra on the third floor of Seney Hall sometime Tuesday night...
Putting animals inside Seney Hall has passed for a dry wit on the Emory at Oxford campus for decades...
Bowen said it was unlikely the responsible party would be punished. "We're not launching a major manhunt" he joked. And whoever put Barcode in the building made sure it didn't get hurt. "They lined up a row of chairs so the animal couldn't get close to the windows and injure itself," Bowen said.

Good for the pranksters for making sure the zebra wasn't harmed in any way.

I found out about the prank because I received an email this afternoon from the pranksters themselves. Or someone claiming to be the pranksters. Here's what they had to say. I didn't correct for spelling:

So i was looking at your top 10 college pranks and i think that you are missing one.. last night some friends and i locked a Zebra in a building at Emory University. here are the details.

I was deeply disappointed when i read what the press had wrote about the Zebra incident at the Oxford College of Emory University. Quite frankly everyone has it wrong. I know, because i organized it and the executed the prank with a group of friends and lookouts.

First of all, the prank had no intentions other than to raise a certain spirit in the Oxford College community. The was no malice what-so-ever.

To the detail that you can varify that I am , in fact , the one whom the credit is due. -I cut a chain around a gate that contained the Zebra that was accompanied by only a donkey. This "pasture" is off of Collingsworth drive after the dead end. - then i unhinged the second gate with a wrench because that chain was too thick to cut. - I then proceeded to transport the Zebra on foot down Collingsworth to Wesley street and then down a power-cut that leads behind the college off in the woods. At approximately 0455hrs I left the Zebra in the care of my cohorts as i met another accomplice that had slept in Seney hall in order to let me in from the inside. We prepared the 3rd floor by placing chairs and tables by the windows so that the Donkey would not be tempted to go near them. We also moved picture frames so that they would not be hurt. Lastly we barricaded the doors using 2"x2"x4' board that extended over the door frame and then were secured to the door with duct tape, zip-ties, and 11/2 inch U-bolts. Once the buildings was prepared we then moved the donkey through the front doors of Seney to the elevator to the 3rd floor. We then unloaded the donkey and took the elevator back down to the first floor. (now this is a good part) we sent the elevator back up to the second floor (which was also barricaded from the inside) with a Chair, books, and a small shelf leaning against the doors of the elevator so that when they opened on the second floor, the chair would fall prohibiting the doors of the elevator to close for use. As a back up we removed the elevator call key panel from the 1st floor lobby and Removed, NOT Cut, wires from the back of the button. The most damage this may have caused is a blown fuse. All in all I believe that once people see the brilliance behind this prank and get off their high-horse they may be able to see that college is about relationships and memories, not a grade on a test or your attendance record. - Seney hall was discovered to be locked down at approx 0735 and it took until 1115hrs to remove the Zebra. - Ultimately this was a HARMLESS prank, NOT vandalism. - and when all is said and done, it may have been one of the greatest pranks ever pulled off in history of American academia... A zebra was barricaded into the most historic building of one of the highest ranked universities in America... thats awesome!!

Regards, The Emory Pranksters
Categories: Animals, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 24, 2008
Comments (34)
The "I Can Has Happy" blog has posted a list of animal candidates. That is, animals (and one plant) who have been nominated as political candidates.

The list includes Tião, a "bad-tempered chimpanzee" who was a candidate for mayor of Rio de Janeiro in 1988; Junior Cochran, a black lab who is mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky; Bosco, a black Labrador-Rottweiler who was mayor of Sunol, California for ten years; Molly the Dog, who is currently running for President of the United States; and Boston Curtis, the mule who was elected Republican precinct committeeman in Milton, Washington. (I've got an article about Boston Curtis in the hoaxipedia.)

But my favorite is the cat Katten Mickelin, who was leader of the Swedish Ezenhemmer Plastic Bags and Child Rearing Utensils Party. I just like the name of that party.

The one plant on the list is a potted ficus tree that Michael Moore tried to place on the ballot in the 2000 New Jersey congressional race.
Categories: Animals, Politics
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 12, 2008
Comments (4)
Many of you have probably already seen the "puppy being thrown over a cliff" video that's been all over the internet in the past week. If you haven't, here it is, but be warned. It's disturbing. The Honolulu Advertiser offers this description of it:

Two Marines are seen in combat gear smiling as one holds a white-and-black puppy by the scruff of its neck. The dog seems to be about 8 weeks old and is motionless as it is held.
"Cute little puppy, huh?" says one Marine as he smiles broadly.
"Oh so cute, so cute, little puppy," says another in a child-like voice.
The Marine holding the puppy is then seen throwing the animal overhand into a desert-like gully below. The animal yelps until it thuds to the ground at the bottom of the gully.
"That's mean," one Marine says afterward.

When I first saw the video I felt it confirmed that there are some pretty sick people out there. But I didn't see anything that would make me suspect the video was fake. Nevertheless, a lot of people have been arguing that it's not real. For instance, see this youtube video. And more here.

The skeptics are suggesting that the puppy was already dead, and that the sounds of it yelping were dubbed in. But I think this is a case of being overly skeptical. That puppy looks alive to me. It's not making any noise initially because it's being held by the scruff of its neck. If you scruff a cat or dog it's going to become very quiet and submissive. It's an instinctive behavior.

The Honolulu Advertiser reports that the Marine Corps is investigating the video. The Marines have released a statement: "The video is shocking and deplorable and is contrary to the high standards we expect of every Marine... We do not tolerate this type of behavior and will take appropriate action." (Thanks, Nettie)
Categories: Animals, Gross, Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 04, 2008
Comments (40)
Russia's Federal Guard Service (the Russian equivalent of the American Secret Service) has apparently placed an ad on a government website for 3200 "white, female, laboratory mice... between sixteen and eighteen grams" to be delivered by the end of the year. This ad has generated a flurry of international media speculation. Why, everyone wants to know, does the Russian Guard Service want these mice?

One theory is that the mice will be used for experiments -- perhaps to test substances such as the radioactive poison polonium210. This seems plausible.

However, the mainstream media is leaning toward the theory that the mice will be fed to the falcons used to keep crows away from the Kremlin. This doesn't make any sense to me at all. Why specially order white, female lab mice if you're just going to feed them to birds?

Emil Steiner of the Washington Post's OFF/beat news writes: "The story seems too ridiculous to be real. And yet almost everyone writing about it seems to take at face value that the guard wants these mice." Steiner also raises the question of why the Guard Service would have placed a public ad in the first place. Surely it has the means to discreetly find 3200 mice.

I'm guessing we might never know the answer to this mystery.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 04, 2008
Comments (4)
A lot of people have posted this video to youtube in the past month, but no one identifies where the clip comes from. My question is: How was the shot created? The table looks like it's tilted to help the balls roll towards the pockets. Also, I'm assuming the egg is not real.


Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 04, 2008
Comments (5)
I received an email from Maria in Sweden who reports that when her mother recently passed away she became the owner of a painting by Pierre Brassau, the monkey artist. (See the article about Pierre Brassau in the hoaxipedia. To sum up the story: in 1964 a Swedish reporter placed some paintings drawn by a monkey in an art show, claiming they were the work of an avant-garde French artist, Pierre Brassau. After critics praised the paintings, he revealed the hoax.) Apparently Maria's mother had received the painting in 1970 as a gift and had kept it ever since.

This is the first time I've ever seen one of Brassau's paintings, despite having searched for pictures of them in the past.

Maria seems to be interested in selling the painting. She's already contacted an auction house. I wouldn't mind owning it, but I'm sure it's worth far more than I can afford. I know that one of his paintings sold for $90 in 1964, which is at least $600 in today's money (or maybe as much as $1600 depending on how you calculate the rate of inflation).

Update: Maria tells me that it will be auctioned off at Bukowskis auction company. Strike that. It's no longer going to be auctioned at Bukowskis.
Categories: Animals, Art
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 25, 2008
Comments (9)
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