According to a post on the website Atlas Obscura, the great American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter, John James Audubon was not above having some fun at the expense of the competition. It seems that he made up at least 28 fake species to prank a rival and the full extent of the scam is only now coming to light.
The victim was the French naturalist Constantine Rafinesque who was always looking for new species to name. “Audubon fed Rafinesque descriptions of American creatures, including 11 species of fish that never really existed “as well as sketches of an additional “3 fake snails, 2 fake birds, 1 fake mollosc, 2 fake plants, and 9 fake.”
The full story is outlined in a new paper in the Archives of Natural History by Neal Woodman, a curator at Smithsonian’s natural history museum.
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.