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" (the species name being coined from Latin pax, the root of Pacific, and Spanish arbol meaning "tree"). It was purportedly 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 2006 test believed the content, and most struggled to find evidence that the website was a hoax, when asked to.
- 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. Archived from the original on 2007-03-20. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
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.
- Official site
- "New Literacies for New Times: Preparing our Students for the 21st Century." (PDF). (178 KiB) Professor Leu's teaching tool.
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