An enigmatic and eerie mermaid mummy, transported from Japan to the U.S. over a century ago, has mystified experts, revealing itself as an amalgamation of fish, monkey, and lizard parts melded together akin to Frankenstein’s creation, initial scans suggest. This haunting mummy, approximately 11.5 inches (29 centimeters) long, referred to as the “Fiji mermaid,” bears striking resemblances to a similar object acquired by showman P.T. Barnum, purportedly from Fiji in the 1840s. The mummy, procured in Japan by an American naval officer in 1906, was later donated to the Clark County Historical Society in Springfield, Ohio, with documents suggesting its origin dates back to the mid-1800s.
In a groundbreaking examination, researchers delved into the mermaid’s identity through X-ray and CT scans, hoping to unveil its hidden secrets. Joseph Cress, the project leader and a radiographer at Northern Kentucky University, described this investigative process as a means to explore the creature’s interior dimensions, shedding light on its curious makeup.
The initial investigations unveiled a curious assembly—melding the head and torso of a monkey sewn onto the decapitated body of a fish, while the creature’s clawed hands seemingly stem from lizard legs, likely those of a Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), as revealed by Cress. The scans also divulged the presence of wooden stakes inserted within the remains—structural reinforcements presumably added to maintain the creature’s integrity.
Currently, the researchers are reconstructing a detailed model of the mermaid from their scans, intending to dispatch these models to zoos and aquariums for further species-level identification of the individual components.
This peculiar mermaid isn’t the only mummified specimen to undergo extensive scrutiny recently. In March 2022, researchers analyzed a similar mummy, unearthed in a concealed box within a Japanese temple. Initially believed to be a monkey-fish hybrid and dating back to the mid-1700s, subsequent scans in February revealed the mummy’s predominantly cloth, paper, and cotton composition adorned with sand, charcoal, and animal parts on the outside.
These findings bring attention to the lore of “ningyo,” mythical fish-like creatures featuring human heads in Japanese mythology, often associated with longevity. Legend has it that consuming these fictional beings granted an 800-year lifespan. Crafted by fishers aiming to sell them to those seeking prolonged life, these cryptid concoctions stood as symbols of this fabled longevity, as previously reported by Live Science.