Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Friday, April 03, 2009


I have always been fond of this particular image, because although it is obviously a hoax, it is a hoax that has been manufactured with one particular purpose in mind - to make people laugh. Because it is a hoax so unutterably ludicrous that one cannot, for a moment, imagine that anyone would take it seriously.

You would be surprised.

A few years ago I was working as the deputy editor of a tropical fish magazine called Tropical World. The editor was a very nice bloke, but he had health problems, and a weakness for the sauce which eventually killed him, so I ended up running the show for a considerable amount of the time.

One day when the editor was in hospital and I was once again in charge, I received an email from someone attaching this picture. Now, I had only ever seen it before in a wonderful book called Animal Fakes and Frauds by a bloke called Peter Dance, and was completely unprepared for a letter from a bloke saying that he was in the throes of setting up a coldwater fishtank, with some unusual inhabitants, and was looking for a furry trout to complete his collection.

The frightening thing was that this geezer was obviously somewhat of a fish afficianado (a piece of alliteration that sounds better read out than it does writen down). He already had some rather impressive North American coldwater fish (including bullhead catfish and pumpkinseeds, which are both technically illegal to keep) and an expensive filtration system.

So maybe I was once again suffering from the sin of pride through prior knowledge. There are, after all, hairy frogs. Why not furry trout?


dragonladych said...

Do you remember our exhibition about the "Dahu". I called it "Derry" for an article in A&M?
I made a very nice looking furry trout for that one. I think I must have photos at work (and the original thing too). I'll try and remember to send it to you.

And yes, we had lots of people believing such stuff. And the curator got insulted once or twice by people who were fooled.

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

Years and years ago, I was a PhD student at Aberystwyth University. To earn a little extra cash, I often did demonstrating work; effectively teaching assistance for lecturers teaching undergrads. One such lecture was the Teleost Diversity demonstration, given by a Dr John Fish.

Now, mooching around a lab full of specimens of fish is not at the best of times interesting (and for the demonstrators it was money for doing extremely little save referring students to the library), so Dr Fish spiced things up a little bit.

He introduced a ringer into the demo.

Heinkel's Arctic Trout, a highly unusual advanced teleost which lives in seasonally freezing freshwater ponds in the high arctic and as a way of keeping warm has a coat of fur.

The students were informed of the ringer's existence, but not where it was and we the demonstrators were specifically told not to let the students know, since extra points would be awarded for detecting the hoax.

Out of the undergrads I supervised, I would say that about 99% of them failed to spot it. Of the mature students in the classes, pretty much all of them sussed which specimen was the fake and all found it most amusing (as did we demonstrators, for that matter).

Richard Muirhead said...

I will have some information on the blog next Monday on a furry,well hairy fish! Watch this space! Richard Muirhead