1984
1984

The Tasmanian Mock Walrus

The Orlando Sentinel featured a story about a creature known as the Tasmanian Mock Walrus that many people in Florida were said to be adopting as a pet. The creature was four inches long, resembled a walrus, purred like a cat, and had the temperament of a hamster. What made it such an ideal pet was that it never had to be bathed, used a litter box, and ate cockroaches. In fact, a single TMW could entirely rid a house of its cockroach problem. However, the local pest-control industry was said to be pressuring the government to ban TMWs, fearing they would put cockroach exterminators out of business. Dozens of people called the paper trying to find out where they could obtain their own TMW. Skeptics noted that the photo of a TMW accompanying the article showed a creature that looked suspiciously similar to a Naked Mole Rat.

Retrobreeding the Woolly Mammoth

The April 1984 issue of MIT's Technology Review included an article titled Retrobreeding the Woolly Mammoth that described an effort by Soviet scientists to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction. The Soviet team, led by Dr. Sverbighooze Yasmilov, had taken DNA from mammoths found frozen in Siberian ice and inserted it into elephant cells. The cells were then being brought to term inside surrogate elephant mothers. Despite clues that the story was not entirely serious, the story was reported as real news by the Chicago Tribune several weeks later and sent out via its news service. And several months after that, Sverbighooze Yasmilov and his mammoth resurfaced in Family Weekly, a Sunday supplement carried in over 350 newspapers. Family Weekly later apologized for its mammoth mistake.

Kremvax

A message distributed to the members of Usenet announced that the Soviet Union was joining the network. This generated enormous excitement, since most Usenet members had assumed that cold war security concerns would forever prevent such a link-up. The message purported to come from Konstantin Chernenko who explained that the Soviet Union wanted to join the network in order to have a means of having an open discussion forum with the American and European people. The message created a flood of responses. Two weeks later its true author, a European man named Piet Beertema, revealed it was a hoax. This is believed to be the first hoax on the internet. Six years later, when Moscow really did link up to the internet, it adopted the domain name 'kremvax' in honor of the hoax.