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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Folklore/Tall Tales
Creating jackalopes in the lab
Posted by The Curator on Sat May 17, 2014
Most people familiar with jackalopes have probably heard that rabbits actually can grow small horns (though not full sets of antlers) if they're infected with the Shope papilloma virus. The "horns" are tumorous growths. Rabbits with such horns may have inspired the legend of the jackalope. What I didn't know, but which is pointed out in a recent article about jackalopes in Wired, is that during the 1930s, Richard Shope of Rockefeller University conducted experiments to see if he could make rabbits grow these horns. In a way, he was creating jackalopes in the lab. Shope ground up horns that he found on rabbits, mixed the horn dust in a…
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The Rock-Rolling Whitefish
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 15, 2014
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…
The Salida Fur-Bearing Trout
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 14, 2014
The Travel Channel show "Mysteries at the Museum" recently filmed an episode at the Salida Museum in Colorado, where they dug into the history of the fur-bearing trout. Back in the late 1930s, a Salida resident, Wilbur Foshay (who was a bit of a con artist, as well as being a member of the Salida Chamber of Commerce), brought a lot of media attention to the town by claiming that fur-bearing trout could be found in the nearby Arkansas River. But he complained that the fur-bearing trout could never be caught because fishing wasn't allowed in Colorado rivers during January, when the fish was most active. So he was urging the Colorado Game and…
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The Snow Snake
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 05, 2014
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 deadly snow snake.…
Blood Love Spell
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 07, 2014
In Japan, it's a Valentine's Day tradition for women to give handmade chocolates (Honmei choco) to men they have romantic feelings for. This year there's a rumor circulating on Twitter, claiming that many young women are mixing their own blood into the chocolates, in the belief that this acts as a kind of love spell that will ensure their feelings are reciprocated. The rumor gets even more stomach-turning, because there are also claims of mixing menstrual blood, saliva, fingernail clippings, and pubic hair into the chocolates. Japancrush.com has posted many examples of these Tweets. Is there any truth to these rumors? That's hard to…
Monster Map
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 31, 2014
Tah gave me a heads up about this 'Here There Be Monsters' shirt that was the deal-of-the-day at Shirt Woot! It reminded me that I recently came across a foldout Storyteller's Map of American Myths in the Aug 22, 1960 issue of Life magazine. It's full of strange creatures such as the Arizona Ghost Camel ("once imported by the army, wandered the desert with dead riders), Michigan Tigerfish ("lurking around Saginaw Bay ate cabin boys"), and the New Jersey Mosquito ("as large as a swallow and fierce as an eagle, was trained by the Indians to hunt. One sting could stop a deer in its tracks.")
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Henry Clay Hooker and the Great Turkey Drive of 1866
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 21, 2014
Henry Clay Hooker (source: wikipedia) Henry Clay Hooker was a wealthy rancher in the Old West. He was known as the "cattle king of Arizona." Modern audiences may know him because he was played by Charlton Heston in the 1993 movie Tombstone. Perhaps the most famous part of Hooker's life story is the claim that he made his fortune by herding 500 turkeys over the Sierra Nevada mountain range into Nevada. The story goes that Hooker moved out to California from the East Coast as a young man. He opened a hardware store in Placerville, and was growing quite successful until tragedy struck in 1866 when his…
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales Comments (2)
Have you lost a jackalope?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 17, 2013
Police in Edmonton recently launched a pinterest page on which they display "unique" lost and stolen items they've acquired. If anyone recognizes an item as their former possession, and can provide "specific details" that identify it, they'll be reunited with it. One of the items is the mounted head of a jackalope. I wonder what kind of specific details they need to identify this? I could say that it enjoys whiskey and is sometimes called the "warrior rabbit." But I don't think that's what they're looking for.
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales Comments (2)
Sam Harris Takes a Stance Against the Santa Lie
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 20, 2013
Sam Harris argues that parents should never lie to their own children, even about something as seemingly innocuous as the existence of Santa, because all lies can sow the seeds of distrust between parent and child. I see his point. But if any kid asks me if Jackalopes are real, I'm going to continue to tell them they are, because that's the truth. The High Cost of Tiny Lies Sam Harris I don’t remember whether I ever believed in Santa, but I was never tempted to tell my daughter that he was real. Christmas must be marginally more exciting for children who are duped about Santa—but something similar could be said of many…
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Vinegaria
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 09, 2013
Back in 1939, Lee M. Roberts won the University of California lying contest with the following discussion of the nation of Vinegaria: The Vinegarians are a peculiar people whose government has existed largely on the income from a national pickle monopoly. Vinegaria is ideally situated for the support of this industry as it is entirely underlain with large subterranean caves. Pickle farmers plant cucumber seeds on roofs of caves and they grow through the surface, avoiding the necessity for plowing the ground for planting. Through a peculiar chemical disturbance in the ocean bed the sea has an unusual briny quality — exactly right for making pickles. Until last year only sour pickles were…
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Food Comments (1)
The Science of Jackalopes
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 16, 2013
As part of its coverage of the debate in Wyoming over whether to make the jackalope the state's official mythological critter, the Casper Star-Tribune profiles Prof. James Holliday, emeritus professor of biology at Lafayette College, who's perhaps the foremost expert on the biology of jackalopes. Scientific basis for the myth of the jackalope trib.com "There is a virus that causes growths on the jack rabbit," Holliday said. The virus is called Shope papillomavirus. Growths can come out of rabbits' bottoms and heads. When they grow from the head, they can look like horns. Holliday described a rabbit that had a growth on its mouth. "The poor thing starved to death,"…
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales Comments (1)
Ithamar Sprague, a 19th Century Mormon Bigfoot Hoaxer
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 06, 2012
I've previously noted a connection between Mormon folklore and Bigfoot — namely that some Mormons believe Bigfoot to be the Biblical figure Cain, condemned to walk the earth forever (and apparently grown big and hairy). But I recently came across another Mormon/Bigfoot connection. Back around 1870, there was a Mormon settler named Ithamar Sprague who lived in the town of Washington, Utah. He terrified his fellow town's folk by creating giant wooden feet, three-feet long, that he used to place monster footprints all over town during the night. Rumors began to spread about a terrifying creature loose in the region. A posse was organized to hunt the beast down, but Sprague confessed before the situation got…
The Annual Overland Whale Migration
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 03, 2012
I received an email from Peter Barss recounting a 1985 April Fool's Day hoax he was involved in. It's a great story, so I'll let him tell it in his own words: In 1985 the Bridgewater Bulletin had an April Fool's front page. Turn over the bogus page and there was the true front page with the day's news. One reporter created an image of a twelve foot starfish climbing out of the sea and up the side of a fisherman's building. Another wrote a story about an international airport that would be constructed just outside Bridgewater (Nova Scotia). That story made it to the provincial legislature where the Minister of Transportation stood and demanded why…
The Nullarbor Nymph Comes To The Big Screen
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 06, 2012
I posted a brief description of the Australian legend of the Nullarbor Nymph back in 2004. This is what I wrote: Thirty-two years ago the tiny town of Eucla, Australia, on the edge of the Nullarbor plain, became famous when a few of its residents first sighted the Nullarbor Nymph. The Nymph was a blonde, feral, half-naked woman who lived in the bush and ran wild with kangaroos. News of this wild woman quickly spread around the world. Now filmmaker Matthew Wilkinson has brought the legend to the screen. ABC News quotes him as saying: It was sort of a male fantasy sort of story that there was this…
Give Grand Marais the Bird
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 10, 2009
A fake seagull perched on a billboard outside the town of Grand Marais, Minnesota recently went missing. Residents suspect it was stolen, and they want it back. So the town has organized a "give us the bird" campaign, in which they're offering a free vacation in Grand Marais in return for information leading to the safe return of the seagull. The best story wins. A strict adherence to the truth, in this case, would seem to be irrelevant. [upi.com]
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.