Hoaxes & Rumors

Extinct creature found in Virginia? It’s just a model!

Extinct creature found in Virginia? It’s just a model!

A creature extinct for millions of years supposedly showed up alive in a Virginia river, as evidenced by a photo circulating online.

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It’s a model.

Let’s first take a look at the photo and what is being said about it.

One version of a post on social media reads:

This creature, the (Diplocaulus) from the Permian period 300 million years ago. Was suppose to be extinct, was just spotted in a river in Virginia. Pretty cool looking!!!

Diplocaulus

Diplocaulus was a real creature which lived before the dinosaurs, about 270 million years ago, in the late Carboniferous to the late Permian period. Enchanted Learning describes it in the following manner:

Diplocaulus (meaning “double stalk”) was not a dinosaur but an early amphibian, now extinct. It was distinguished by its boomerang-shaped head which was formed by two elongated bones at the back of the head. It had four short legs, and a short, flattened tail. It was about 3 feet (1 m) long.

Model

The Diplocaulus shown in the image above is a model created by artist Goro Furuta. A glance at his Facebook page shows a number of realistic models of extinct creatures. Furuta himself did not attempt to pass off the photo above as real, but it appears that someone re-posted his picture with a fake backstory.

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Furuta has several photos of his models in water settings similar to the one above.

He confirmed that it was a model when the image began to circulate online. “Before I knew it, diplocaulus share of more than 3000 cases. Oh, incidentally, this is a model so. ~ lol,” he wrote.

Precedent

This isn’t the first time a model has been passed off as a real, exotic creature. A popular video allegedly showing a dead mermaid that washed ashore in Florida was actually a work of art.

The idea of a creature thought extinct suddenly appearing alive is also not far-fetched. For example, in 2008 a fish thought extinct for 100 years began showing up at fish markets throughout the Middle East. Another example is the “Tree Lobster,” an insect thought to be extinct around 1930 until a small population was found under a single shrub in 2001.

Bottom Line

The photo which supposedly shows a living Diplocaulus is actually just a realistic-looking model created by artist Goro Furuta.

  • Karl Shuker

    I was the person who first revealed the true nature of this photo, i.e.
    that it featured a Diplocaulus model by Goro Furuta, back in October
    2015, and I documented my findings in a ShukerNature blog article of
    mine on 12 October 2015, which has since attracted many many thousands
    of hits. Interesting how stories like this one spread so quickly online.
    Dr Karl Shuker

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