Venezuelan Poodle Moth Is the Internet's Favorite Pet This Week

A fuzzy animal that's equal parts adorable and terrifying has taken the Internet by storm. It's called the Venezuelan Poodle Moth and for the love of all that is holy we hope that it's real.

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I can't even keep a straight face while looking at this little guy (yes I've assigned a sex to this maybe imaginary creature since it, like all bulldogs, is a male). And that's probably the reason why this South American insect of what appears to be of Mogwai-Furby lineage has taken the Internet by storm. It hits that sweet spot where adorable meets terrifying, and it's way cuter than this hellbeast that needs to be killed with fire.

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Here's what we know so far: 

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The Story Actually Starts in 2009

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This hoopla begins on the first day of 2009 when zoologist Arthur Anker uploaded pictures of the Poodle Moth in the Gran Sabana region of Venezuela's Canaima National Park. The moth (can we name him?) appears in this slideshow alongside what appears to be a bevy of crazy insects. "Poodle moth (Artace sp ?), Venezuela" was the only caption added along with information about what camera he used. "Scientists traversing the park in Venezuela where it was seen have been unable to find it again," writes the Atlanta Journal Constitution's George Mathis. 

So Wait, Real or Not?

But unlike other flimsier seeming hoaxes, this one can be traced back to an actual scientist. Cryptozoologist Karl Shuker writes, "eventually I traced the photographer responsible for this enigmatic snapshot, and discovered that he was a bona fide zoologist called Dr Arthur Anker (or Art for short), from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan." And, as Shuker explains, the moth appears in another flickr set with even crazier looking "neotropical moths" like the one pictured to the right. Seeing that weirdness of that little dude kind of makes the Poodle Moth a little less weird— and more believable. Shuker adds that the Poodle Moth actually looks like it could be related to these things called "muslin moths." For you science buffs, Shuker also has information from one Dr. John E. Rawlins from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh about ID'ing this creature (and perhaps confirming its existence):

Here’s my vote/guess to ID the poodle moth. The antenna is distinctive.

Lasiocampidae: Artace or a related genus, probably not Artace cribraria(presumably North America to Argentina, but nobody has revised this group from Mexico south). There are more than a dozen described South American species of Artace, but their delimitation, validity, and even their generic placement is uncertain. It will take two things to solve this problem: a comprehensive revision of Artace and kin, plus an actual specimen of a genuine “Venezuelan poodle moth.”

Definitely NOT Lymantriidae or Arctiidae, but easily confused with some Megalopygidae, Limacodidae, even Dalceridae, and Cossidae.

Yes….it is cute.

That's Great, Now Show Me the Memes

Okay, fine. Here: 

Venezuelan Poodle Moth, I Choose You: 

Poodle Moth Gets Drunk with Tom Hanks

"I see ... Poodle Moths" 

Poodle Moth (hat?) and Canada's Royal Wedding

Poodle Mothra

Poodle Moth Can Haz Cheezburger

And the inevitable Poodle Moth Fresco: 

Okay, The Atlantic Wire (and our shoddy photoshop skills) created that last one. So, like Cecilia Gimenez last week, the Venezuelan Poodle Moth is the viral superstar of the week.

Photos via:  Dr. Arthur Anker.

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