The fur-bearing trout is a rare fish created in the 1930’s that lives in North America’s lakes and rivers. It purportedly gets so cold in the winter that the trout has evolved to grow a thick coat of fur to keep from freezing to death.
Of course it’s a hoax, but a very funny one with rather early origins, when North America was still being mapped. A 17th century immigrant wrote a letter to his family back in Scotland about the plentiful “furried animals and fish” in the New World. His family mistook that phrase to mean there were furried fish swimming about, so the mischievous Scotsman made one for his family.
In 1938, someone brought the joke back, and published an article in the Pueblo Chieftain, stating that:
“Old-timers living along the Arkansas River near Salida have told tales for many years of the fur-bearing trout indigenous to the waters of the Arkansas … Tourists and other tenderfoot in particular have been regaled with accounts of the unusual fish, and Salidans of good reputation have been wont to relate that the authenticity of their stories has never been questioned—in fact, they’re willing to bet it’s never even been suspected.Then, last week, out of Pratt, Kansas, where water in any quantity large enough to hold a trout—fur-bearing or otherwise—is a rarity, came an urgent request for proof of the existence of the furry fin flappers. Upon the sturdy shoulders of Wilbur B. Foshay, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, fell the delicate task of informing the credulous Kansan, without detracting from the obvious tourist-attracting qualities of the pelted piscatorial prizes. With admirable diplomacy, and considerable aplomb, Foshay dispatched posthaste a photograph of the fish, obtained from a Salida photographer and told the Kansan to use his own judgment as to the authenticity of the species. The photograph sent has been available in Salida for some time.”
Thus started the rush for fish with fur, which were stuffed and mounted in private homes and museums as curiosities. Even after the hoax was discovered, mounted fish still grace certain museums as a different kind of curiosity. How fun.
(via The Oddment Emporium)