August 18

1817

CRYPTOZOOLOGY:
The Linnaean Society of New England, in response to the sightings of a sea-serpent in Gloucester, Massachusetts (see August 10), appointed a special committee to "collect evidence with regard to the existence and appearance of any such animal." This committee subsequently published a pamphlet in which it announced that the sightings of the creature represented the discovery of an entirely new genus, the Scoliophis Atlanticus. The society's pamphlet, however, was met with ridicule, and inspired several fake accounts of the creature to be reported. The account was particularly ridiculed in the Southern USA, where it inspired the Charleston playwright, William Crafts, to compose a play titled The Sea Serpent; or, Gloucester Hoax: a Dramatic jeu d'esprit in Three Acts. The premise of this play was that the serpent was a hoax, designed to promote the reputation of the town of Gloucester in Massachusetts.

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