A satirical news website has fooled the internet -- and a national newspaper -- into believing that a giant squid recently washed up on Californian shores.
According to Lightly Braised Turnip, the colossal creature, which reportedly appeared in Santa Monica Bay, measured "a whopping 160 feet from head to tentacle tip".
The report suggested that the creature had grown so big due to 'radioactive gigantism' -- a genetic mutation triggered by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Soon social media was alive with shares and retweets, with The Herald Sun estimating that over 500,000 people kept the squid story afloat.
But, of course, it wasn't long before the esteemed scientific publication National Geographic noted that the largest giant squid every recorded by scientists measured just 43 feet (12 metres) long. And others pointed out that Lightly Braised Turnip also recently reported the hoax sighting of a rare oarfish that had grown to a freakish 100-foot length, as well as an exclusive interview with Santa Claus.
But unfortunately, one national newspaper posted an image of the squid on their Facebook new feed, before the myth could be busted.
Image via beijingcream.com
It's not the first time China's state-run newspaper People's Daily has had trouble distinguishing fact from fiction in the realm of online news.
Last year the paper reported a story from satirical publication The Onion stating that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had been named “The Sexiest Man Alive for 2012”.