Hot-Headed Moles in Antarctica

In the April 1995 edition of Discover magazine, the following article appeared:

"April Pazzo was about to call it a day when she noticed that the penquins she was observing
seemed strangely agitated. Pazzo, a wildlife biologist, was in Antarctica studying penguins at a
remote, poorly explored area along the coast of the Ross Sea. “I was getting ready to release a
penguin I had tagged when I heard a lot of squawking,” says Pazzo. “When I looked up, the whole
flock had sort of stampeded. They were waddling away faster than I’d ever seen them move.”

            Pazzo waded through the panicked birds to find out what was wrong. She found one penguin that
            hadn't fled. "It was sinking into the ice as if into quicksand," she says. Somehow the ice beneath the

bird had melted; the penguin was waist deep in slush. Pazzo tried to help the struggling penguin. She grabbed its wings
and pulled. With a heave she freed the bird. But the penguin wasn’t the only thing she hauled from the slush. About a
dozen small, hairless pink molelike creatures had clamped their jaws onto the penguin’s lower body. Pazzo managed to
capture one of the creatures – the others quickly released their grip and vanished into the slush.

Over the next few months Pazzo caught several of the animals and watched others in the wild. She calls the strange new
species hotheaded naked ice borers. “They’re repulsive,” says Pazzo. Adults are about six inches long, weigh a few
ounces, have a very high metabolic rate – their body temperature is 110 degrees – and live in labyrinthine tunnels
carved in the ice.

Perhaps their most fascinating feature is a bony plate on their forehead. Innumerable blood vessels line the skin covering
the plate. The animals radiate tremendous amounts of body heat through their “hot plates,” which they use to melt their
tunnels in ice and to hunt their favorite prey: penguins.

A pack of ice borers will cluster under a penguin and melt the ice and snow it’s standing on. When the hapless bird sinks
into the slush, the ice borers attack, dispatching it with bites of their sharp incisors. They then carve it up and carry its
flesh back to their burrows, leaving behind only webbed feet, a beak, and some feathers. “They travel through the ice at
surprisingly high speeds,” says Pazzo, “much faster than a penguin can waddle.”

Pazzo’s discovery may also help solve a long-standing Antarctic mystery: What happened to the heroic polar explorer
Phillipe Poisson, who disappeared in Antarctica without a trace in 1837? “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that a big
pack of ice borers got him,” says Pazzo. “I’ve seen what these things do to emporer penguins – it isn’t pretty – and
emporers can be as much as four feet tall. Poisson was about 5 foot 6. To the ice borers, he would have looked like a
big penguin.”

(This copy of the article was pulled from:

Does anyone know if any of this has actually ever been verified? Has/was Dicover hoodwinked?

There seemingly are several problems with the story. Can someone tell me the latin name of this foul creature? It seems like a hairless animal in the Antarctic would have several problems including: food to sustain the metabolic rate of a 6oz animal needing to stay warm, waterproofing during the times the tunnels flood etc…

Anyone know for reals? I really NEED to know.

The more you know, the less you understand - Tao Te Ching

I haven’t seen this, but I have a gut feeling this is a joke. The key here is “April”…it might have been a joke artile put in Discover for April Fool’s Day. I think we can clinch this if someone can tell me what “Pazzo” means in, I assume, Spanish or Italian. If, as I suspect, it means “fool”, then there’s no doubt in my mind that it was one big April Fool’s joke.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

“Bore through ice much faster than a penguin can waddle”?

I don’t think so. It’s a joke, and a not very good one, at that.

According to babelfish, “pazzo” is Italian for “crazy.” All things considered, that sounds close enough to “fool” for me.

It is an April Fool’s joke. Every April they print something that is intended as a joke. I remember one year they announced the discovery of a huge “fundamental particle” called something like a bigon. It was the size of a bowling ball and flew around the room before crashing into a computer (they even had a picture). I think I’ll go to the library to check out the previous April editions just to find the joke article; it’ll be good for a laugh.

It is a joke (I remember reading so; I was most disappointed.) Note also the name of the French explorer. “Poisson d’avril” is French for April fool.

grrrrrrr. I hate when I get sooo wrapped in little inconsistencies that I miss BIG clues- thanks all


The more you know, the less you understand - Tao Te Ching

Ha! I remember the Bigon issue!

I’m not sure if it was Discover or Scientific American, but one April there was an article on the T. Rex. Said that recent studies had proven that most T. Rexes died from tripping–because their tiny forelimbs couldn’t break their fall…

Does anybody remember NPR’s “All Things Considered” April fools joke a few years back about the pending sale of Arizona to Canada. Apparently the Canadians were desirous of a warm water port. They got people like Barry Goldwater and Bruce Babbitt to go along with joke and give totally serious opinions on the sale. I think Babbitt expressed the hope that Phoenix would finally have a world class hockey team.

      • I remembr the “ice borers” gag - not long after “X-Files” did a show using it for the story! - MC

Quite a few magazines will run April Fool’s jokes in the April issue. I recall one Road & Track which contained a seperate issue called Rod & Truck. The truck part was a road test of some 18-wheeler.

“Age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” -Leroy “Satchel” Paige

I remember an American re-broadcast of a BBC news story concerning the Italian spaghetti harvest. There were shots of people picking limp noodles off trees. There was a ‘drought’ and the harvest was going to be poor,so England was going to have to import inferiour French pasta. There was a run on pasta at the markets the next day, April,2.
Even with being forwarned by the host of the show (Jack Parr?) it looked real as hell.

Yea, that Arizona joke sure is cute. Especially considering the plan which is now in discussion to sell Hudson Bay (or at least the fresh water that can be purified therefrom, shipped by giant canal) to Arizona. vicious, over-my-dead-body, we-stand-on-guard-for-thee expression