Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer

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Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer

The Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer is a fictional animal invented by Discover magazine as an April Fool's Day joke.

A short article on the Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer first appeared in the April 1995 issue of Discover magazine.[1] The article was written by Tim Folger, then an editor at the magazine. Folger wrote several other April Fool stories for the magazine, including a basketball-sized particle named the "bigon",[2] and the discovery of prehistoric musical instruments— rhinoceros bladder bagpipes, a mastodon-tusk tuba, and a bone triangle—supposedly used by Neanderthals.[3]


The article carried a purported photo of a Naked mole rat-like creature with a bony growth protruding from its head. According to the article, this animal had recently been discovered in Antarctica. The bony structure was suffused with tiny blood vessels that would heat it to a temperature high enough to melt through the ice. To acquire food, a group of these animals would burrow into the ice underneath suitable prey, and use their heads to melt through. When the animal, usually a penguin, sank helplessly into the water, the group of Borers would devour it. It was even speculated in the article that Antarctic explorer "Philippe Poisson" (poisson d'avril, "April fish," is the French equivalent of "April fool") may have been eaten by a group of these animals when he disappeared in 1837.[4]

A clue that indicated that the Ice Borer story was a hoax can be found in the name of the biologist who discovered the animal, "Aprile Pazzo" ("April Fool" in Italian).[5] Cleber Redondo, a deputy art director, created image by digitally manipulating an image of a naked mole-rat, adding fangs and a "bony growth" (based on a trilobite) with a "red-hot" front edge.[5][6]


Discover magazine received more mail about this article than about any other article it had ever published.[7] A number of zoo officials and scientists sent humorous letters to the magazine asking how they could acquire specimens of the creature.[8][6] Ripley's Believe It or Not! picked up the story and ran it as a real news item.[9] The story was repeated as true in The Unofficial X-Files Companion.[10]


  1. ^ Barnes, Andrew, ed. (28 March 1995). "The naked truth..." Tampa Bay Times. 111 (87) (Main ed.). St. Petersburg, Florida: Times Publishing Co. p. D1 – via
  2. ^ Folger, Tim (April 1996). "The Bigon". Discover. Vol. 17 no. 4.
  3. ^ Folger, Tim (April 1997). "Neanderthal Musical Instruments Included Tusk-Tuba, Bladder-Bagpipe, and 'Xylobone'". Discover. Vol. 18 no. 4.
  4. ^ Folger, Tim (April 1995). "Hotheads". Discover. Vol. 16 no. 4. Time. p. 14 – via University of Delaware.
  5. ^ a b Allen, William (17 April 1995). "On Thin Ice". St. Louis Post Dispatch. 117 (107). pp. 1, 7 – via
  6. ^ a b Hoffman, Paul (October 2010). "Unbelievable". Discover. Vol. 31 no. 8. pp. 40–41.
  7. ^ Folger, Tim (1 April 2008). "Strange Molelike Animal Melts Ice Tunnels With Its Head". Discover.
  8. ^ Walker, Joan, Shigatsu Baka, and Loof von Lirpa. "Naked Truth." Discover 16.(1995): 14. Science Full Text Select (H.W. Wilson). Web. 9 Nov. 2012.
  9. ^ Hoffman, Paul (10 February 2011). "Why Are Smart People Some of the Most Gullible People Around?". Discover. Kalmbach Media.
  10. ^ Genge, Ngaire E. (1996). The Unofficial X-Files Companion. Macmillan. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-333-65441-5.

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