Mystery of 300-year-old mummified 'mermaid' with creepy 'human face' finally solved after baffling scientists for years | The Sun

A CENTURIES-old mystery surrounding a mummified "mermaid" has finally been solved after baffling scientists for nearly 300 years.

The 12-inch creature was allegedly caught in the Pacific Ocean, off the Japanese island of Shikoku, between 1736 and 1741.

It's been kept in a temple in the Japanese city of Asakuchi for around 40 years.

With a grimacing face, pointed teeth, two hands, and hair on its head and brow, it has an eerily human appearance – except for its fish-like lower half.

Locals worshipped the mystery creature for years – believing it granted immortality to anyone who tastes its flesh.

Chief priest Kozen Kuida told the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun they even worshipped it in the hope it "would help alleviate the coronavirus pandemic".

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But last year, researchers from the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts took the mummy for tests and CT scans in a bid to unravel its secrets.

And they have now discovered that the creature is completely artificial, made in the late 1800s.

There's no evidence of any skeleton – instead made of paper, cloth and cotton.

Scientists said the lower half of the body comes from a fish's tail – but believe it was added by whoever created it.

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Its jaw and teeth were taken from a fish and the "hair" on its head originally came from a mammal, the researchers found.

After launching the project last year, Hiroshi Kinoshita of the Okayama Folklore Society said the creature could have had religious significance.

“Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality,” he said.

“It is said that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid, you will never die.

“There is a legend in many parts of Japan that a woman accidentally ate the flesh of a mermaid and lived for 800 years.

“This ‘Yao-Bikuni’ legend is also preserved near the temple where the mermaid mummy was found.

“I heard that some people, believing in the legend, used to eat the scales of mermaid mummies.”

He believes it was manufactured at some point during the Edo period – an era of Japanese history stretching from 1603 to 1867.

“Of course, I don't think it's a real mermaid,” he said last year.

“I think this was made for export to Europe during the Edo period, or for spectacles in Japan.

“The legend of mermaids remains in Europe, China and Japan all over the world. Therefore, I can imagine that people at that time were also very interested in it.”

A similar specimen was exhibited by P.T. Barnum – whose life inspired the 2017 blockbuster The Greatest Showman – at his American Museum in New York before it burned down in 1865.

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This mummy, created from the torso and head of a monkey sewn onto the back half of a fish, was purportedly caught off the coast of Fiji and later purchased from Japanese sailors.

In Japanese folklore, there exists a creature called the ningyo, which is described as having a monkey’s mouth with fish-like teeth and a body covered in golden scales.

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