An investigation into a “mermaid mummy,” a strange-looking creature (or creatures), allegedly caught between 1736 and 1741 in a fishing net off the coast of present-day Kochi Prefecture, Japan, has begun.
The “mermaid” has been maintained at the Enjuin temple in Asakuchi since its discovery (or, if you’re a little more doubtful, since someone stitched a fish to a monkey), where it has been revered.
The chief priest told the Japanese news agency Asahi, “We have worshipped it, believing that it will help ease the coronavirus outbreak even if just somewhat.” “I’m hoping the study will leave behind (scientific) records for later generations.”
Asahi says that it will now undergo its first-ever scientific investigation. The mummy has so far been taken out of the temple by researchers from Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts in order to put it on a CT scanner.
The researchers will also examine DNA samples from the mummy to determine which animals—possibly a monkey and a fish—were involved in its creation. Previous research has focused on creatures that resemble humans, such as one “mermaid” that was actually a fish linked to a wire and wood torso with human hair for decoration.
The “Fiji Mermaid,” presented by P. T. Barnum, is arguably the most well-known mermaid hoax. Drawings of typical mythological mermaids—beautiful creatures with a woman’s head and torso linked to the lower part of a fish—were used by Barnum to promote the exhibit. When visitors arrived to see the mermaid, they were really met by the top half of a monkey that had been stitched to a fish, and both portions were likewise incredibly dead.
A Japanese fisherman probably made the mermaid as a prank. The only thing that would prevent everyone on the island from becoming sterile, according to the fisherman’s claims, was to possess a photograph of the mermaid herself, which fortunately he could provide in exchange for a nominal cost.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for confirmation that mermaids exist—the researchers won’t disclose their findings on the “mermaid” until later this year. Another “mermaid” example turned revealed to be a monkey sewn to a salmon, according to Hiroshi Kinoshita of the Okayama Folklore Society who first inspired this most recent attempt.