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April 2013

All Fools' Day

What is this Animal?


 Figure 1: Rubber spider prank Egg Figure 2: An Egg - Squeeze ball toy with maggots inside Giant spider Figure 3: Giant spider on the side of a house Figure 4: Monster from the sea prank, baboon size teeth.

Over the many years that the Discovery Centre has been helping to find that eluded answer to the question “What is this animal?”; we have had to inform a number of people that they are at the end of a practical joke and that the animal they have so carefully cared for and photographed is actually a children’s toy.

We have received spiders (Figure 1), snakes, lizards and even eggs (Figure 2). In some cases these pranksters have even had the scientists puzzled, until the keen eye of a Curator spots a “Made in China” imprint or a moulding edge.

With the development of computer imaging software the pranks are becoming more convincing. We have received photographs of giant snakes crawling down streets, giant spiders on the side of houses (Figure 3) and fish with mammal jaws and baboon size teeth (Figure 4).

The 1st of April is known around the world as the day for celebrating pranks. Historically, the Romans had the festival of Hilaria, held on the 25th March and during the medieval period there was the Feast of Fools, held on the 28th December.

Practical jokes are generally lighthearted, reversible and non-permanent and only cause the victim to feel foolish for a while. So next time you see a red-spotted lizard in your garden or an email photo of a creature from outer space, before you reach for the internet to find out “What animal is that?”; look around you for a hidden camera.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.