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Mystery ‘mermaid mummy’ dating back to the 1870s baffles scientists

Mystery ‘mermaid mummy’ dating back to the 1870s baffles scientists

The 'Frankenstein' style monster is freaking people out.

If you've ever been to a museum and seen an Egyptian mummy exhibition, you'll know how creepy they look. But this miniature 'mermaid mummy' takes the cake.

Looking like a combination of fish, human and reptiles, the Frankenstein-style mummy is dare I say it, terrifying.

With a gaping mouth, unusual teeth and a mermaid-like tail, researchers were baffled at what this creature could be.

Allegedly dating back to the 1870s, the creature was taken from Japan to the US by an American sailor who donated it to the Clark County Historical Society in Springfield, Ohio in 1906.

Almost a century later, scientists were able to use modern tools like X-rays and CT scans to figure out narrow down what the mummy is.

The 'mummy' is thought to have come from Japan and donated in 1906 (Pen News)
The 'mummy' is thought to have come from Japan and donated in 1906 (Pen News)

A radiologist aiding the research, Doctor Joseph Cress, supposed that the object was a ‘hodgepodge of at least three different species externally’.

He went on to explain: "There’s the head and torso of a monkey, the hands seem to be that of an amphibian almost like an alligator, crocodile or lizard of some sort.

“And then there’s that tail of a fish - again, species unknown. It is obviously fashioned, almost Frankensteined together - so I want to know what parts were pulled together."

Because there were so many similarities in the ‘mermaid mummy’ to various animals, vets were asked to examine the insides of it to try and solve the mystery.

They concluded that the jaw appeared to come from either a stonefish or a toadfish, while its creepy hands seemed to have come from a turtle.

A 'hodepodge' of all kinds of animals (Pen News)
A 'hodepodge' of all kinds of animals (Pen News)

Doctor Cress was shocked by this conclusion: "Everything else related to this mermaid is completely synthetic, so it could be just like papier-mâché from way back in the day when they put this together.

“Even the ridges on the back that kind of seem like they’re where ribs might be… there’s no bones to accompany that. So it looks like it was just purely sculptural and not from a real animal.

"And then there’s some wooden structural supports inside to really act as the frame to hold all of it together," he added.

One popular theory as to the origin of the ‘mermaid mummy’ comes out of Natalie Fritz of the Clark County Historical Society who thinks it could be a ‘Fiji mermaid’ — a feature of sideshow attractions from the 1800s which merged together the torso and head of a small monkey and the back half of a fish. American showman P.T. Barnum is credited with popularising these objects.

On the matter, Fritz explained "Fiji Mermaids were a part of collections and sideshows in the late 1800s. We've heard some stories from people in the community.

"Some remember seeing it on display in Memorial Hall, the home of the historical society from 1926 to 1986."

According to legend, these Fiji mermaids we thought to grant immortality to whoever tasted their flesh. Eugh, whatever it is, we don’t fancy taking a bite out of it.

Featured Image Credit: Pen News