Who Will Dare To Challenge The Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer?

By Carl Zimmer | April 1, 2010 8:35 am

This morning, during my daily graze of news and commentary, I’ve come across some fairly excellent science-themed April Fool’s jokes. But it will take an exceptional hoax to mount a serious challenge to what is arguably the finest science-themed April Fool’s joke of all time, which today celebrates its fifteenth anniversary: the tale of the hotheaded naked ice borer.

Then-Discover-senior-editor, now-contributing-editor, and forever-all-around-good-guy Tim Folger concocted an article detailing the mystery of penguins vanishing from sight, and the discovery of a thermally endowed rodent that melted the ice under their feet and dragged them into their frozen tunnels.

Despite naming the scientist April Pazzo (I mean, come on, people), Tim fooled many a reader, as reflected in the flood of letters we received. You can read the story and some letters here. The beast even has its own Wikipedia page!

In fairness to the fooled, science is often so bizarre, it’s not always easy to distinguish the reality from the hoax. (And fortunately, this morning’s good news about science writer’s Simon Singh’s victory against chiropractors and the ridiculous libel laws of England is no joke.) So far, here the ones I’ve encountered that have made me smile…add you own in the comment thread.

The IUCN’s species of the day: the lion finch.

Catalogue of Organisms describes a new paper recognizing a new group of reptiles–the Gryphi.

The two leading journals, Nature and Science, will merge to form a journal called either Natural Science or Scientific Nature.


Comments (11)

Links to this Post

  1. Joke’s on You, Productivity « Blog « Jue Wang | April 1, 2010
  1. Oh, I saw one but it was two days too early : LHC is working again.

  2. Here is my effort from a couple years ago.

    Profollias downhoki, a recently discovered organism that is the missing link between fungi and
    plants! http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/apr2008.html

    Be sure to click on the references. :)
    —tom http://TomVolkFungi.net

  3. Onychomys

    When do you suppose Stümpke published his rhinograde work? If it was April 1st, I think it’d beat the naked ice borer. Or do they even do April Fool’s Day in Germany?

  4. dave chamberlin

    I know for a fact there are alien sociologists living amoung us, zipped up in dog suits, watching, always watching.

  5. blueshifter

    “Eruptions” got me good, with a story plausible enough to get you to believe it, yet fantastic enough to get you super excited! And he didn’t give the joke away until you click on the final ‘more info’ link:


  6. Here’s my own from a couple years ago. Be sure to click on references for an explanations

    Profollias downhoki, a recently disc overed organism that is the missing link between fungi and plants!


  7. The ice borer: now THAT’S a blast from the past!!

  8. dave chamberlin

    I’ll never forget that fatefull day when I arranged for my female german shepard to be breed with a male. she was having no part of it, but the male was exceedingly frisky and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally the cornered female resorted to her last option, she begged in English to get that filthy beast away from her.Over the course of the next hour she confessed she was no dog at all but an alien sociologists in disguise. She even promised me untold wealth if I’d keep quiet, which of course sounded like a fine idea to me. Apparently these aliens don’t like rape any more than we do. Well the next day the dog ran away never to be seen again leaving me with no dog, no wealth, and no credibility.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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