Posts Tagged ‘pickled dragon hoax’

The discovery of a pickled dragon fetus created a sensation in late 2003. According to the claim, David Hart found this item in a box in his garage in Oxforshire. Supposedly his grandfather once worked at the Natural History Museum in London, and had left the box in the garage decades before.

The find consisted of a 30-inch tall glass jar full of formaldehyde, and within it the floating reptilian fetus. Hart related that this unusual object had been donated to the Natural History Museum in the late 19th Century by a group of German scientists. Their nefarious plan? That the Natural History Museum would become an object of ridicule after displaying such an object as if it were real. But, the story went, Museum officials were not fooled and put the object in the trash. From there it was salvaged by Dear Old Grandad, who kept it as a curiosity.

Well, if there actually had been such a donation by German scientists, the Natural History Museum would have been quite correct to dispose of it. The “fetus” and the story behind it were created by Hart and amplified by his marketing guy, Allistair Mitchell. It seems Hart had written a dark fantasy/thriller novel with dragons returning to terrorize modern Britain, and he hoped to create some buzz about the project. The “dragon fetus” was a model, created by the same company that provided props for┬áthe BBC’s famed Walking With Dinosaurs series. The “antique jar” was also a custom commission.

Did Hart’s scheme work? Well, he did get a publishing deal. Waterstones published his novel in 2004. I’ve glimpsed information that it was supposed to be first in a series, but I didn’t write the title down and now I can’t find any more on it or any other books in the series. So the “pickled dragon” hoax may have been partly effective, but ultimately it seems that you cannot really fake your way to success.

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