In 2016, photographs that purportedly showed a “hammerhead salamander” (also known as the “boomerang-head”, or diplocaulus) started circulating on social media:
Although the diplocaulus was, indeed, a real animal that lived during the Permian period, the amphibian has not been present on Earth for about a few hundred million years. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a real, living diplocaulus was captured on camera.
The photograph displayed above may appear to belie the fact that the diplocaulus has long been extinct, but the image actually depicts a model of a diplocaulus created by artist Goro Furuta. A message posted on the artist’s Facebook page identified the animal as a model and not a living creature:
Before I knew it, diplocaulus was shared more than 3000 times. Oh, incidentally, this is a model so…. LOL.
This isn’t the first time that a model of a diplocaulus has been mistaken for the real thing. In 2004, another photograph of a purported hammerhead salamander in a bucket circulated on the internet:
That image also turned out to be a hoax.