British Scientists Clone Dinosaur: Hoax Story About Baby Apatosaurus Goes Viral; Fake News Can Bring ‘Big Business’

By Jack Phillips, Epoch Times
April 1, 2014 2:41 pm Last Updated: April 3, 2014 11:13 am

An article saying that British scientists cloned a dinosaur–specifically, a baby Apatosaurus called “Spot”–is a hoax. The story has gone viral, and similar fake stories like false celebrity death reports can generate a significant amount of revenue for the hoaxers.

The article was published on News-Hound.org, which doesn’t publish real news stories.

The article reads: “Scientists at Liverpool’s John Moore University have successfully cloned a dinosaur, a spokesman from the university said yesterday. The dinosaur, a baby Apatosaurus nicknamed ‘Spot,’ is currently being incubated at the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The scientists extracted DNA from preserved Apatosaurus fossils, which were on display at the university’s museum of natural science. Once the DNA was harvested, scientists injected it into a fertile ostrich womb.”

The fake report has since been debunked by a number of websites, including Snopes and Hoax-Slayer. There’s been no mainstream media coverage of a baby dinosaur being cloned.

“The claims in the message are nonsense. Scientists have certainly not cloned a dinosaur. The image in the report depicts a newborn macropod (kangaroo, wallaby or wallaroo), not a dinosaur. The story originates from NewsHound, a website that publishes all manner of fanciful nonsense disguised as news reports. Nothing published on the NewsHound site should be taken seriously,” says Hoax-Slayer about the bunk report. 

It adds: “The fake story comes courtesy of NewsHound, a website quickly becoming notorious for churning out fanciful drivel disguised as news reports. The site is responsible for another recent viral hoax that falsely claimed that a woman stranded on an island for seven years was discovered after her SOS sign was spotted on Google Earth.”

However, such fake stories–including celebrity death hoaxes–can mean profit for certain websites. CBS, in a report earlier this month about viral hoaxes, said they could bring “big business.”

Tim Stevens, editor at large at CNET, told CBS: “A site like TMZ makes maybe 100 million page views a month. Obviously, these fake sites aren’t getting anywhere near that, but if they can get really a fraction of that, they can make tens of thousands of dollars off of one of these fake stories over just a couple of days.”

“If you’re someone who just casually reads headlines or reads the first couple sentences of a story, you probably would never notice that these stories are fake,” he added.

One such website is FakeAWish.com and accompanying website Global Associated News, which publishes templates of celebrity death hoaxes. “I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some twisted sense of satisfaction or accomplishment,” he told the New York Times a few years ago