Audubon Made Up At Least 28 Fake Species To Prank A Rival
May 13, 2016 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Rafinesque (previously) was not known for his social graces; as John Jeremiah Sullivan writes, Audubon is the "only person on record" as actually liking him. During their visit, though, Audubon fed Rafinesque descriptions of American creatures, including 11 species of fish that never really existed. Rafinesque duly jotted them down in his notebook and later proffered those descriptions as evidence of new species. For 50 or so years, those 11 fish remained in the scientific record as real species, despite their very unusual features, including bulletproof (!) scales. Turns out we missed another 17 species that Audubon threw in there for fun.
posted by sciatrix (34 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I want a pet brindled stamiter.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:40 AM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


That rat drawing really reminds me of Quentin Blake.
posted by leesh at 10:43 AM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of those made-up species was later immortalized in song by one of Rafinesque's descendants.
posted by a car full of lions at 10:52 AM on May 13, 2016


Reminds me of Fred Saberhagen's "The Annihilation of Angkor Apeiron", wherein a spacefaring encyclopedia salesman is placed on trial for deliberately allowing a wounded Berserker (giant, autonomous ships, theorized to be doomsday weapons from some war long-forgotten before humanity reached the stars) to capture his encyclopedia when his ship was attacked, giving it the knowledge of nearby inhabited planet Angkor Apeiron, which it can attack for technology and resources to repair itself. The salesman explains that Angkor Apeiron does not exist, having been made up so that would-be competitors to his encyclopedia could be proven in court to have copied their information from his product rather than independently researched it, and the Berserker is probably already dead, unable to understand why it is surrounded only by the void of space.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


Reminds me of Fred Saberhagen's "The Annihilation of Angkor Apeiron"

Which seems ludicrous until you learn that almost all map producers do things like this so they can enforce their copyrights.
posted by srboisvert at 10:58 AM on May 13, 2016


RAFINESQUE: "Hey, you, uh, discover any new animals lately?"
AUDUBON: "Yes, a recent crustacean discovery was made in the South Pacific Ocean. It resembles the common crab, but it has extraordinary long forelimbs and they are covered with thick fur, like a polar bear."
RAFINESQUE: "Okay now you're fucking with me, right?
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on May 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Which seems ludicrous until you learn that almost all map producers do things like this so they can enforce their copyrights.

See also: esquivalience.
posted by a car full of lions at 11:09 AM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


It resembles the common crab, but it has extraordinary long forelimbs and they are covered with thick fur, like a polar bear.

YETI CRAB! I knew it (thanks, Octonauts)!

Proof that nature is way more creative than we are.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is there a German word for "I didn't post this to Metafilter because I assumed I got the link from Metafilter?"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Is there a German word for "I didn't post this to Metafilter because I assumed I got the link from Metafilter?"

I spent twenty minutes yesterday trying to find the MeFi post I got the Friday the 13th strategy guide I posted earlier today from.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:33 AM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Rafinesque did worry a little bit about the information Audubon was giving him, Woodman reports—but only about the accuracy of small details. He never seemed to suspect that the species might not exist at all.

O shit, waddup!
posted by Mchelly at 11:37 AM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


this is how all science should be done tbh

amidst cackling and malice aforethought
posted by poffin boffin at 11:42 AM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Uh
posted by sunset in snow country at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Really, they're all just Dinosaurs.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2016


I just want to point out that, conversely, the platypus was presumed to be a hoax when it was first reported by Europeans. Even when taxidermied specimens started arriving, naturalists were dismissing them as creative mashups made from parts of several other animals.

Nature is basically so weird that even experts frequently can't tell if any given species is real or not.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:54 AM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


But the platypus *is* a hoax. I stopped believing in them when I had to proofread a children's card game about animals and the platypus card said that it was venomous and I was like "Lol that's obviously a mistake" and then I looked it up and they ARE venomous AND they don't have nipples, they just secrete milk from their skin. WTF. FAKE.
posted by sunset in snow country at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


I stopped believing in them when I had to proofread a children's card game about animals and the platypus card said that it was venomous

It's a plot point in the Aubrey-Martin series, and I had to stop and look it up. Crazy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2016


They can also detect electric fields and grant wishes.
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on May 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


only the males are venomous #notallplatypus
posted by poffin boffin at 12:59 PM on May 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Platypuses? Platypods? Platypals?
posted by griphus at 1:00 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's the DR 20/silver that really makes the platypus shine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:02 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bulletproof? I sure hope no one was testing birds experimentally.
Bald Eagle? Not bulletproof.
Spoon billed sandpiper? Not bulletproof.
Spotted owl? Not bulletproof...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:03 PM on May 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


platypersons is the gender neutral plural i think
posted by poffin boffin at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


The spoor of the platypi is known as platypoo.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:33 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


oh my god what if the young aren't called platypups, i can't bear to google and find out for sure.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Especially since you can sing platypup platypup oh platy platy platy to the tune of the lollipop song.
posted by moonmilk at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


baby echidnas are called puggles
posted by griphus at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Baby platypus are also called puggles, like all extant monotremes. They also hatch almost naked and very fat.
posted by sciatrix at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


*BANGS FIST ON TABLE* PLATYPUPS PLATYPUPS PLATYPUPS
posted by poffin boffin at 3:59 PM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


So perhaps Snouters are a hoax too? Say it ain't so!
posted by boilermonster at 5:46 PM on May 13, 2016


Nature is basically so weird that even experts frequently can't tell if any given species is real or not.

Indeed. This supposed species called "humans" have so many contradictory traits and qualities that only a lunatic would believe in them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Overweight platypi are known as platyfatty.

Underweight platypi are known as platyflaty.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:49 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


My favorite fake species is the cows with giant flattened horns like radar receivers, that allegedly hide in forests. The name gives it away though. I mean, "moos"? Really?
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:33 AM on May 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


A fun game to play with the puggles is platycake.

Somebody stop me, please.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:37 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


« Older "if people are who they say they are"   |   My name is Jaimie and I've decided to build a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments