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   Undertoad  Wednesday Jan 28 12:52 PM

1/28/2004: Antique hoax



This glass jar is 30 inches tall and its contents appear to be fake. Um you knew that, right?

full story

David Hart found this in his garage (in Oxfordshire, UK), and asked his friend to look into it, along with the tin box of documents that accompanied it.

They think that it was created in the 1890s by German scientists and sent to Britain's Natural History Museum in an attempt to pull off a huge hoax. The museum sent it to be destroyed, but instead it was taken and hidden away, possibly by Hart's grandfather.

The story notes that "At the time, scientists were the equivalent of today's pop stars." -- but it's a quickie statement that isn't made by an expert; is this really the case? Too much of an over-simplification? I can imagine it being true in a pre-leisure era, when discoveries are suddenly leading to big changes and improvements in medicine and life in general.

So did the Germans want to claim that they had made this big discovery? Or did they want the Brits to announce it as important so the Germans could reveal it as a sham to show how stupid the Brit scientists were?



Kitsune  Wednesday Jan 28 12:57 PM

"The dragon is flawless, from the tiny teeth to the umbilical cord.

That's pretty intricate and detailed for ~1890! Maybe the idea of a previous hoax is, well, also a hoax?



Kitsune  Wednesday Jan 28 01:02 PM



The sexy creature so many sailors dreamed about -- "The Feejee Mermaid" hoax by PT Barnum, 1842.

Sailors must be lonely people.



Undertoad  Wednesday Jan 28 01:11 PM

Kit, the "hoax of a hoax" was my first thought, but I figured I'd present it without that thought and see how long it took anyone else to point that out.

Five minutes, good work.

So far the story of this thing has been written exactly once, by the Telegraph, and has been presented with the "expert" opinion of this guy's friend.




russotto  Wednesday Jan 28 01:33 PM

I vote for "hoax of a hoax". A friend of mine has a couple of similar (down to the color) objects which are sold by a novelty company. His are "aliens" and "brains", but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a dragon as well.



Elspode  Wednesday Jan 28 01:34 PM

What an incredible piece of work, though! And a great pic, to boot. I want a reflection hologram of this.



e unibus plurum  Wednesday Jan 28 04:39 PM

I'm almost sure I've seen that at an anti-choice rally.



tw  Wednesday Jan 28 04:40 PM

Re: 1/28/2004: Antique hoax

Quote:
Originally posted by Undertoad
This glass jar is 30 inches tall and its contents appear to be fake. Um you knew that, right?
Another question and even if it is created for fraudulent purposes. Is it art? Apparently it is quite good art - no matter what its purpose is. Or is art no longer art when its purpose to to defraud?


ferkelparade  Wednesday Jan 28 04:50 PM

Why in the world does it have an umbilical cord? Don't we all know that dragons hatch form eggs?



dar512  Wednesday Jan 28 05:16 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by ferkelparade
Why in the world does it have an umbilical cord? Don't we all know that dragons hatch form eggs?
You're thinking of mythical dragons. Real dragons are warm-blooded (actually hot-blooded).


Plec  Wednesday Jan 28 07:42 PM

Warm blooded?!
Assuming dragons exist-ed (yes, a long shot) they would either be reptiles or be very closely related to reptiles. As we all know reptiles are cold blooded. If you look at Komodo "Dragons" they are huge cold blooded lizards.

Anyway the fake looks pretty good, the umbilical cord is their only slip. Maybe the wings too.

I guess the question is what did the Germans do with the (dead?) mother dragon?



Quote:
Originally posted by dar512

You're thinking of mythical dragons. Real dragons are warm-blooded (actually hot-blooded).



xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Jan 28 08:57 PM

Fake or not, I want one.



dar512  Wednesday Jan 28 11:00 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by xoxoxoBruce
Fake or not, I want one.
Talk about your major doodadage. Woh.


dar512  Wednesday Jan 28 11:10 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Plec
Warm blooded?!
What? You don't recognize sass without an icon?

One ought not inject logic into a conversation about dragons.


Elspode  Thursday Jan 29 12:38 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Plec
Warm blooded?!
Assuming dragons exist-ed (yes, a long shot) they would either be reptiles or be very closely related to reptiles. As we all know reptiles are cold blooded.
But what if dragons are more closely related to dinosaurs? There is a large school of thought that believes them to have been warm-blooded.


wolf  Thursday Jan 29 01:33 AM

That doesn't mean that they can't also lay eggs!!

(thought we had dinoshells)



quzah  Thursday Jan 29 02:23 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by wolf
That doesn't mean that they can't also lay eggs!!

(thought we had dinoshells)
It's a damn shame it's not real eh? Speaking of warm blooded egg layers...

Quzah.


Michael Roth  Thursday Jan 29 10:42 AM

I hate to say it, but umbilical cord as evidence of hoax is based on error.



(reptile egg diagram)

Sometimes amateur herpetologists get impatient, and open the eggs early, requiring the umbilical cord be cut, sutured, and antiseptic applied.



wolf  Thursday Jan 29 11:08 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by quzah

It's a damn shame it's not real eh? Speaking of warm blooded egg layers...

Quzah.
Q ... they're called BIRDS. Birds are warm blooded egg-layers.

That's why they don't fall out of the sky like stones in winter.

The beloved duckbilled platypus is merely (okay, not merely, they are quite astonishing) a mammal.


mitheral  Thursday Jan 29 01:28 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by wolf

That's why they don't fall out of the sky like stones in winter.
They aren't falling out of the sky but it is so dang cold here (Calgary, Alberta -36C Monday night) I'm finding frozen sparrows in my feeder.

Makes more sense that dragons would be decended from bird what with the wings and all.


wolf  Thursday Jan 29 01:52 PM

Mythology would have us believe that the wyrm or dragon is of lizardish extraction.

However, few, if any, close observers of the beast were able to carry their knowledge back to the civilized world. These intrepid explorers tended to be crunchy and tasted good with a nice bechamel sauce.

It is also established dragon folklore that they lay eggs and sit their clutches. This points to a more bird-like origin, as most lizards lay 'em and forget 'em ... unless they're hungry in which case they eat 'em.



Happy Monkey  Thursday Jan 29 02:33 PM

Modern biology would imply they share an ancestor with angels, pegasi, and centaurs, based on the fact that they are vertebrates with six limbs.



jinx  Thursday Jan 29 02:48 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Happy Monkey
Modern biology would imply they share an ancestor with angels, pegasi, and centaurs,
Don't forget winged pigs.... or pigs on the wing anyway.


glatt  Thursday Jan 29 03:51 PM

This is clearly a juvenile dragon. Not only is its size a dead give away, but so too is it's shape.

The chest muscles have not developed enough to power wings of that size sufficiently to allow this beast to become airborne. Picture a chicken's breast, then look at this creature's. Also, like a newly hatched butterfly, it's wings are a bit diaphanous. Much like a human baby, a young dragon needs nurturing. Once the chest muscles develop, and the wings become leathery, this beast will be quite formidable indeed.



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Jan 29 07:48 PM

How do we know it's not a dead angel?



Torrere  Thursday Jan 29 10:08 PM

Dragons must have such beautiful wings of feathers.

I wonder if this is a male or female dragon?



quzah  Friday Jan 30 12:53 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by wolf
The beloved duckbilled platypus is merely (okay, not merely, they are quite astonishing) a mammal.
And? Where in my post does it say anything about birds being or not being warm blooded? In fact, where does it say anything about birds? I simply stated:

"Speaking of warm blooded egg layers..."

What part are you confused about? Or are you trying to say that duckbills aren't warm blooded, because it isn't under dispute that they're egg layers.

Quzah.


wolf  Friday Jan 30 01:28 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by quzah

And? Where in my post does it say anything about birds being or not being warm blooded? In fact, where does it say anything about birds?
Neither does it suggest that they are.

Why not just groove with the humor for a change, Q? I know you can do it ... I've seen it, and been appropriately amused ...


russotto  Friday Jan 30 01:23 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by quzah

And? Where in my post does it say anything about birds being or not being warm blooded?
I don't know about warm blooded, but many birds are quite tasty.


wolf  Friday Jan 30 02:14 PM

And the birds have the advantage of pretty much being available year-round.

And the lizards pretty much taste like the birds, so ... let's hear it for the path of least resistance!



quzah  Friday Jan 30 11:28 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by wolf
And the lizards pretty much taste like the birds, so ... let's hear it for the path of least resistance!
Yeah. I'd imagine it'd be fairly hard to take down a full grown dragon for a midnight snack...

Of course if dragons were bird kin...

Quzah.


Griff  Saturday Jan 31 10:02 AM

Don't be silly, dragons never had any feathers. There is a really well researched documentary on the subject.



Michael Roth  Sunday Feb 1 05:03 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Griff
Don't be silly, dragons never had any feathers.
Which got me thinking... about Aztecs.


One of the great Gods of Ancient Mesoamerica, Quetzalcoatl is a synthesis of serpent and bird. The name means "quetzal serpent". The quetzal was a sacred bird of very beautiful feathers which were used in elite and ritual costumes. Quetzalcoatl, the patron of rulership, had several incarnations, the most important were as a creator god, as Ehecatl, the God of Wind; as the Morning Star; and asTopiltzin, a semi-human ruler, unique among the Gods.

The priestly Quetzalcoatl was often contrasted to his dark shamanic brother Tezcatlipoca, the God of war, and their relation veer between enmity and alliance.

According to Aztec and Mayan creation accounts, after the great floods ended the era of the Fourth Sun, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca raised the heavens and create the Earth. Since no people inhabitated the earth, Quetzalcoatl descended to the underworld to retrieve the remains of the people destroyed by the flood. Their bones were ground like corn into a fine meal and upon it the gods let their blood, thus creating the flesh of the present race and the era of the Fifth Sun.



wolf  Sunday Feb 1 10:58 PM

Most people forget about Lord Feathered Serpent, even if they did see that episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series ...



glatt  Monday Feb 2 08:37 AM

Did you say Captain Feather Sword?



Uryoces  Monday Feb 2 02:59 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by wolf
Most people forget about Lord Feathered Serpent, even if they did see that episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series ...
He had a kick-ass starship, too. It could holographically transform it's appearance to a space-going dragon.

Cut me open; count the rings...


OnyxCougar  Thursday Feb 12 11:02 PM

Nono...dragons have FUR, as evidenced by Falcor in Neverending Story.



Undertoad  Saturday Mar 28 01:20 PM

Five years later, someone has used the Contact Us link to give us... the rest of the story (RIP Paul Harvey):

Quote:
On 1/28/2004, the picture of the day was a photo of a dragon fetus (possibly a hoax) in a jar. I happen to know the true story.

It is a hoax, but it's a modern one. If you're wondering where I got this, I have a book called "The Dragon Conspiracy" (which has the same picture on the cover) by P. R. Moredun, who knows all about this hoax because he created it.

Here's the passage transcribed directly out of the back of the book:

"The idea for the dragon hoax came to me in my sleep. I woke up one morning and decided to have a dragon made and use it for publicity. That's how most of my ideas come to me, either in my sleep or when I'm relaxing in the bath!

"Finding a dragon is not that easy. There are plenty of experts out there who have never seen one, so how was an amateur dragon hunter like me going to get one? I went to see a model maker, a man called Jez who had built the dinosaurs for a BBC television show called "Walking With Dinosaurs", and explained to him that I needed a baby dragon, but one with a difference.

"Everyone thinks dragons came from eggs, but I'm not so sure, and there is no evidence to support either argument, only the myth--and that might not be accurate. So I asked Jez to make me a dragon fetus with an umbilical cord, and that was just the start of the fascinating discussions that have continued ever since. But he did make me a very fine dragon!

"I didn't tell anyone what I was doing, so when the dragon was ready it was still a secret. I then put it in the glass jar, filled it with water and sealed it with wax. Since the dragon is made out of latex rubber, water doesn't bother it. Once the dragon was complete, all I had to do was get the story straight for the hoax. The specimen jar was crated up and placed in a friend's garage--so the story went that it was supposedly stored away for years and forgotten. I'd been to Salzburg, Austria, for a weekend trip and bought some old letters and postcards from an antique shop. I used this to "authenticate" the hoax, since they were genuine and handwritten in old-style German, a language few people can read nowadays. Finally I had one additional letter created--it spoke of a "ghost" being sent to the British Museum and that it's true origin must be kept secret.

"So everything was ready. All I needed was for the press to be interested. I sent a photograph of the dragon to London's daily newspaper and the editor was hooked! He gave it full-page coverage the very next day and after that the story went worldwide. TV crews turned up, and newspapers from Moscow to Sydney and from Rome to L.A. ran the story.

"Of course, no one believed it was a real dragon--how could it be? But the story that it was a nineteenth-century hoax was believable--a dragon created by German scientists to fool their British counterparts at a time when rivalry was high between two of the biggest world powers. In fact, it was a hoax of a hoax. Eventually we launched the book with a major UK bookstore chain and the rest, well that is history, or urban myth as they call it nowadays.

"Was it fun to do? Absolutely! Even after we admitted the dragon was a hoax, people would still ask, "Is it real?" Everyone wanted it to be genuine, so strong is the belief in dragons. And when it went on exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London, crowds gathered and it proved very popular.

"Would I do it again? Definitely! There is so much doom and gloom in the news nowadays that I think something like the dragon story was refreshingly "unreal" and exciting in a positive way.

"Have I got another one planned? Yes, but I can't say--otherwise I'll spoil it!"

There you have it. That's the true story behind the dragon in the jar.
The story checks out. Thanks contributor! (I dunno if you wanted to remain anonymous)


TheMercenary  Sunday Mar 29 05:46 AM

Very interesting. But hardly ethical.



DanaC  Sunday Mar 29 08:44 AM

Ethical? Oh bugger that it's fun. Hoaxes have a long and proud history in science.



Glinda  Sunday Mar 29 01:15 PM

Historical Hoax or.... ?

You be the judge:











xoxoxoBruce  Sunday Mar 29 01:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaC View Post
Ethical? Oh bugger that it's fun. Hoaxes have a long and proud history in science.
Like creationism.


spudcon  Sunday Mar 29 05:08 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
Like creationism.
Or Darwinism. Or Global Warming.


Your reply here?

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