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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged Fish:

Fur-Bearing Trout
The fur-bearing trout is a fictional creature native to northern regions of North America. The basic claim is that the waters of lakes and rivers in the area are so cold that a species of trout has evolved which grows a thick coat of fur to maintain its body heat. 
In reality, a possible source may have been a simple misunderstanding. A 17th century Scottish immigrant’s letter to his relatives referring “furried animals and fish” being plentiful in the New World, followed by a request to procure a specimen of these “furried fish” to which the mischievous Scotsman readily complied by making one up, is often cited. In fact, the “cotton mold” Saprolegnia will sometimes infect fish, causing tufts of fur-like growth to appear on the body. 
The hoax can be unequivocally documented to go back to at least the 1930s. Following is an excerpt from an article in the Pueblo Chieftain dating back to November 15, 1938:

“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.”*

Stuffed and mounted specimens of these fish can be found in a number of museums of curiosities. These are made-up; the Saprolegnia ”fur” cannot be preserved by taxidermy. [Source]
* The use of the English language in this paragraph is beautiful!
[Credit MUST be given to The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things for this, an impeccable blog filled with all kinds of ridiculously interesting things..!]

Fur-Bearing Trout

The fur-bearing trout is a fictional creature native to northern regions of North America. The basic claim is that the waters of lakes and rivers in the area are so cold that a species of trout has evolved which grows a thick coat of fur to maintain its body heat. 

In reality, a possible source may have been a simple misunderstanding. A 17th century Scottish immigrant’s letter to his relatives referring “furried animals and fish” being plentiful in the New World, followed by a request to procure a specimen of these “furried fish” to which the mischievous Scotsman readily complied by making one up, is often cited. In fact, the “cotton mold” Saprolegnia will sometimes infect fish, causing tufts of fur-like growth to appear on the body. 

The hoax can be unequivocally documented to go back to at least the 1930s. Following is an excerpt from an article in the Pueblo Chieftain dating back to November 15, 1938:

“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.”*

Stuffed and mounted specimens of these fish can be found in a number of museums of curiosities. These are made-up; the Saprolegnia ”fur” cannot be preserved by taxidermy. [Source]

* The use of the English language in this paragraph is beautiful!

[Credit MUST be given to The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things for this, an impeccable blog filled with all kinds of ridiculously interesting things..!]

A Jenny Haniver is the carcass of a ray or a skate which has been modified and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen. For centuries, sailors sat on the Antwerp docks and carved these “mermaids” out of dried skates. They then preserved them further with a coat of varnish. They supported themselves by selling their artistic creations to working sailors as well as to tourists visiting the docks. Jenny Hanivers have been created to look like devils, angels and dragons. Some writers have suggested the sea monk may have been a Jenny Haniver. The earliest known picture of a Jenny Haniver appeared in Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium vol. IV in 1558. Gesner warned that these were merely disfigured rays, and should not be believed to be miniature dragons or monsters, which was a popular misconception at the time.

Jenny Haniver is the carcass of a ray or a skate which has been modified and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen. For centuries, sailors sat on the Antwerp docks and carved these “mermaids” out of dried skates. They then preserved them further with a coat of varnish. They supported themselves by selling their artistic creations to working sailors as well as to tourists visiting the docks. Jenny Hanivers have been created to look like devils, angels and dragons. Some writers have suggested the sea monk may have been a Jenny Haniver. The earliest known picture of a Jenny Haniver appeared in Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium vol. IV in 1558. Gesner warned that these were merely disfigured rays, and should not be believed to be miniature dragons or monsters, which was a popular misconception at the time.

At some point in the 1800s P.T. Barnum (partner with James Anthony Bailey in the Barnum and Bailey Circus) came up with an incredible business idea. Entrepreneurs in other types of business might develop a new type of vacuum cleaner or a system for delivering frozen foods, but Barnum’s unique trade led him to invent one of the ultimate freak show creations of the time: The Fiji Mermaid.
Although there are conflicting reports detailing his methodology in creating this phony monster, the basic idea remains constant throughout history. It involved the acquisition of the lower half of a large fish, preferably something with a skeletal structure that could be proportionate to the skeleton of a monkey. The fish skeleton was then attached to the skeleton of the monkey, removing the monkey legs beforehand to make the new skeleton appear to be a sea creature. Add some papier-mâché or a few scraps of fur and, bingo, you’ve got yourself a Fiji Mermaid! Patrons will pay a minimal fee to catch a glimpse, but startup cost is pretty damn low and so is maintenance. In fact, according to one report, Barnum allowed customers to view the mermaid in his museum at no extra charge. As a result, ticket revenues tripled.
Although the Fiji Mermaid is not “real,” the concept behind its creation is enough to place it in the top ten freakish carnival sideshows of all time. Seriously, who cuts up skeletons and fuses them together as a way to make money? Congratulations, Barnum, you’re a top-notch freak.

At some point in the 1800s P.T. Barnum (partner with James Anthony Bailey in the Barnum and Bailey Circus) came up with an incredible business idea. Entrepreneurs in other types of business might develop a new type of vacuum cleaner or a system for delivering frozen foods, but Barnum’s unique trade led him to invent one of the ultimate freak show creations of the time: The Fiji Mermaid.

Although there are conflicting reports detailing his methodology in creating this phony monster, the basic idea remains constant throughout history. It involved the acquisition of the lower half of a large fish, preferably something with a skeletal structure that could be proportionate to the skeleton of a monkey. The fish skeleton was then attached to the skeleton of the monkey, removing the monkey legs beforehand to make the new skeleton appear to be a sea creature. Add some papier-mâché or a few scraps of fur and, bingo, you’ve got yourself a Fiji Mermaid! Patrons will pay a minimal fee to catch a glimpse, but startup cost is pretty damn low and so is maintenance. In fact, according to one report, Barnum allowed customers to view the mermaid in his museum at no extra charge. As a result, ticket revenues tripled.

Although the Fiji Mermaid is not “real,” the concept behind its creation is enough to place it in the top ten freakish carnival sideshows of all time. Seriously, who cuts up skeletons and fuses them together as a way to make money? Congratulations, Barnum, you’re a top-notch freak.