Pacific Northwest tree octopus
The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is an Internet hoax created in 1998 by Lyle Zapato. This fictitious endangered species of cephalopod was given the Latin name "Octopus paxarbolis" (which roughly means, "Pacific tree octopus" in Dog Latin). It was purported to be able to live both on land and in water, and was said to live in the Olympic National Forest and nearby rivers, spawning in water where its eggs are laid. Its major predator was said to be the Sasquatch.
The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website is among a number of sites commonly used in Internet literacy classes in schools, although it was not created for that purpose. Despite the falsehoods shown on the site, such as the inclusion of other hoax species and organizations (mixed with links to pages about real species and organizations), all 25 seventh-grade students involved in one well-publicized test believed the content.
- Lyle Zapato. "Help Save The Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus From Extinction!".
- Beth Krane (November 13, 2006). "Researchers find kids need better online academic skills". UComm Advance (University of Connecticut) 25 (12). Retrieved 2008-01-11.
Don Leu, Chair in Literacy and Technology at UConn, "All 25 students fell for the Internet hoax....anyone can publish anything on the Internet, and today's students are not prepared to critically evaluate the information they find there."
- Matthew Bettelheim (March 14, 2007). "Tentacled Tree Hugger Disarms Seventh Graders". Inkling.
Of the 25 seventh-graders identified as their schools’ best online readers, 24 recommended this bogus website to another class that Leu had told them was also researching endangered species.