Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 29th, 2007
Richard Ellis is one of the curators of the current 2007 “Mythic Creatures” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History. He once was part of a “new species” hoax back in the early 1980s.
The long delay between initial discovery (1976) and the scientific description (1983) [of the Megamouth shark] became the focus of an elaborate practical joke by two friends of Leighton Taylor, Richard Ellis of the American Museum of Natural History and John McCosker, director of San Francisco’s Steinhart Aquarium. Ellis and McCosker photocopied random articles from Japanese scientific journals and inserted photographs of the megamouth shark and a map of the type location and an English abstract, making it appear as if a Japanese team under guidance of John E. Randall of the Bishop Museum was to snatch the scientific merits of the description right from under Taylor’s nose.
An accomplice in Japan then mailed the “preprints” to Taylor, who was naturally dumbstruck. He then had his Japanese-American secretary translate the “paper”, only to be told that it contained things like musings about the cat in Japanese art, and rhinoceroses in Ueno Zoo, but nothing about the megamouth shark. Hidden on the last page were the names of Ellis and McCosker, put there deliberately for Taylor to find them. Realizing he had been had, Taylor finally wrote up the description.
The remark on its last page, “Particular thanks go to Richard Ellis and John McCosker for preparation of a preliminary manuscript which was of great help in the production of this final paper,” is in reference to this incident.“Hoax” under “Megamouth shark,” Wikipedia.
But, wait, what if the megamouth – a real one – is actually behind a mystery often discussed here at Cryptomundo? Read on…in another blog I’m posting today…