Steven Spielberg has unwittingly become an internet sensation, after a photo of him posing with a model of a dinosaur on the set of Jurassic Park went viral online - for some people thought the animal was real and had been poached by the director.

The picture, which depicts Spielberg as he sat in front of a 'dying' Triceratops used for a scene of the 1993 blockbuster, was posted on Facebook by humourist Jay Branscomb last week, to poke fun at a controversy surrounding hunting photos shared online by Texas cheerleader Kendall Jones.

"Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered," Branscomb wrote in the caption. "Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man."

However not everyone seemed to immediately understand that Branscomb was being sarcastic.

An outraged user commented she was "disgusted" by the Oscar-winning filmmaker whom she described as an "animal killer".

As some netizens pointed out the man in the picture was the director of Jurassic Park, a user wrote: "I don't care who he is, he should not have shot that animal."

Others seemed to understand that Spielberg couldn't have possibly killed the Triceratops but failed to appreciate that Branscomb was also very well aware that dinosaurs have been extinct for 66 million years.

"Steven Spielberg next to a Jurassic Park prop. You sir who posted this are an idiot," one wrote.

Branscomb's post drew more than 5,700 comments and was shared some 32,000 times.

"Stupid people are too stupid to realise when less-stupid people are pretending to be stupid," he later wrote on a status update.