The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is an Internet hoax created in 1998 by Lyle Zapato. This fictitious endangered species of cephalopod was given the Latin name Octopus paxarbolis (which roughly means, "Pacific tree octopus" in Latin). It was purported to be able to live both on land and in water, and was said to live in the Olympic National Forest and nearby rivers, spawning in water where its eggs are laid. Its major predator was said to be the Sasquatch.
The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website is among a number of sites commonly used in Internet literacy classes in schools, although it was not created for that purpose. Despite the falsehoods shown on the site, such as the inclusion of other hoax species and organizations (mixed with links to pages about real species and organizations), all 25 seventh-grade students involved in one well-publicized test believed the content.
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus was said to live high in the trees of Washington State's Olympic National Forest and spend their early lives in the water of Puget Sound, but as they mature they move upwards, adopting an arboreal existence. They use their eight arms to swing from branch to branch, as well as to grab small prey such as insects and frogs. During their mating season they return to the water, but soon after resume their life in the forest.
The tree octopus population is under great pressure from the encroachments of the modern world: logging, roads, pollution, and overhunting by trappers eager to sell the octopuses as ornamental decorations for hats. As a result, the species is close to extinction. The Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus organization has long been attempting to raise awareness of this animal and its plight. They urge concerned citizens to write to their congressional representative about this problem.The tree octopus is 33cm in length 6ft in diameter.