The 300-year-old mummy ‘mermaid’ in Japan is a ‘composite’ between a monkey and a fish?

The 300-year-old mermaid mummy in Japan is a combination of a monkey and a fish?  - Photo 1.

The image of the head of a mermaid mummy – Photo: THE ASAHI SHIMBUM

According to the scientific news site LiveScienceHiroshi Kinoshita, a board member of the Okayama Folklore Association, discovered the mermaid mummy, about 30.5 cm long, inside a box at a shrine in Okayama Prefecture.

Kinoshita first learned of the mummy after he found a photograph of the strange specimen in an encyclopedia of mythical creatures.

According to a note left inside the mummy’s box, a fisherman caught the specimen sometime between 1736 and 1741. He then sold it to a wealthy family.

Researchers still don’t know exactly how the “mermaid” got inside the temple, according to the news site The Asahi Shimbun.

Mr. Kinoshita persuaded the priests of the temple to let scientists investigate the unusual marks on the “mermaid”.

On February 2, researchers took a CT scan of the mummy. The researchers will also take DNA samples to reveal which species have been combined to create “mermaids”.

This “mermaid” mummy bears some resemblance to two mythical creatures from Japanese folklore: Amabies, mermaids with beaks instead of mouths and three distinct tail fins, and Ningyos, fish-like creatures have a human head.

Both types of creatures are associated with miracle stories in healing and increasing longevity.

This mummy was previously displayed in a glass cabinet at the temple for visitors to pray. However, over the past 40 years the mummy has been kept in a fireproof safe inside the temple to prevent it from deteriorating.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, the mummies of two similar mermaids have been worshiped at two other shrines in Japan. These “fake” mermaids were likely created by locals to sell to curious Western tourists, reports Live Science.

A similar hoax, known as the Feejee Mermaid, was sold to Dutch tourists in Japan in the 1810s and then resold to British merchants. In the end, this mermaid was transferred to the famous collection of merchant PT Barnum. This 91cm-long mermaid is said to have been created from the body of an orangutan and the tail of a salmon.

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