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Is the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus real or fake?


Many are wondering if the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is real or fake as talk of the bizarre creature floods the internet.

The supposedly endangered animal has been a hot topic of conversation on social media for decades – but the whole thing is a prank.

Octopus at low tide in Havelock, Andamans, India

Is the Tree Octopus real or fake?

The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is fake. It’s not a real type of octopus and never was – the whole thing is a trick.

It’s a famous internet hoax created in 1998 by Lyle Zapato, who launched a website about the phoney octopus.

The site is still one of the top search results on Google today and has a green background with facts about the fictional species.

It’s said to be a cephalopod with the Latin name “Octopus paxarbolis” that can be found on the west coast of North America.

It can live on land and in water, the fake website explains, and its main predator is Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch.

It’s often used in schools

The fake website is often used in schools to demonstrate how gullible children are with online pieces of information.

In 2007, Leu et al. conducted a study on 13-year-olds in the US and their ability to evaluate the reliability of online information.

The top quartile of school children in Connecticut and South Carolina were shown the spoof site “Save The Northwest Pacific Tree Octopus”.

They were then asked to evaluate the reliability of the phoney website and provide three reasons for their answer.

Following that, all of the children were interviewed to make sure they understood what the term ‘reliable’ meant.

The results are interesting

The 2007 study found that 27 of the 53 school children thought the website was very reliable, which is just over half.

Only six of them thought it was unreliable, even though they had just participated in a lesson that used this site to teach them to be suspicious of online information.

A similar 2017 Dutch study found that only two out of 27 school children realised that the website was a hoax.

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