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THE TRUTH BEHIND THE 300-YEAR-OLD 'MERMAID MUMMY' 'CAUGHT IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN'

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The truth behind the 300-year-old 'Mermaid mummy' 'caught in the Pacific Ocean'

Amummified 'mermaid' that is worshipped in Japan has been exposed as nothing more than a fabrication of cloth, paper, and cotton decorated with fish parts.

The creature was allegedly caught in the Pacific Ocean, off the Japanese island of Shikoku, between 1736 and 1741, and is now kept in a temple in the city of Asakuchi.

Legend says it has the power to grant immortality, and during the Covid-19 pandemic it was worshipped in a bid to ward off the virus.

But scientists suspected it was really the tail end of a fish grafted on to the upper body of a primate, and sent the artifact for CT scanning to reveal the truth.

Hiroshi Kinoshita of the Okayama Folklore Society, who conceived the study, said that the end results surprised them.

 
The truth behind the 300-year-old 'Mermaid mummy' 'caught in the Pacific Ocean'
The truth behind the 300-year-old 'Mermaid mummy' 'caught in the Pacific Ocean'© Provided by Daily Mail
 
It is now kept in a temple in the city of Asakuchi
It is now kept in a temple in the city of Asakuchi© Provided by Daily Mail
 
The creature's hair is mammalian in origin, its nails were made from animal keratin, and the jaws were taken from an unknown carnivorous fish
The creature's hair is mammalian in origin, its nails were made from animal keratin, and the jaws were taken from an unknown carnivorous fish© Provided by Daily Mail
 
The creature was allegedly caught in the Pacific Ocean, off the Japanese island of Shikoku, between 1736 and 1741
The creature was allegedly caught in the Pacific Ocean, off the Japanese island of Shikoku, between 1736 and 1741© Provided by Daily Mail

He said: 'If you were to imagine it normally, you would think it was a combination of the lower body of a fish and the upper body of an ape.

However, the survey results show that this is not the case. From what we now know, the lower half of the body is fish, but the upper half is not mammalian.'

Most of the upper body was actually made from cloth, paper, and cotton, though pufferfish skin was used on the arms, shoulders, neck, and cheeks.

The creature's hair is mammalian in origin, its nails were made from animal keratin, and the jaws were taken from an unknown carnivorous fish.

No internal skeleton was detected; but there are metal needles in the back of the neck and lower body.

The bottom half, meanwhile, was manufactured with scales from a croaker fish.

Sand or charcoal powder mixed in a paste-like substance was used to paint the body surface.

In the course of the study the relic underwent X-ray imaging, CT scanning, fluorescent X-ray analysis, DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating.

Observation with optical and electron microscopes was also undertaken.

Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts concluded that the creature was manufactured. 

Hiroshi said the artifact was likely created to cash in on the Japanese fascination with mermaids.

'So much content was created, including stories, pictures and legends,' he said.

'Mermaid mummies were probably made in various parts of Japan as a spectacle or for export to foreign countries. 

The supposed mermaid being measured and tested to see if it is real
The supposed mermaid being measured and tested to see if it is real© Provided by Daily Mail
 
The ancient mermaid artifact being sent through a CT scan to reveal the truth about its origins
The ancient mermaid artifact being sent through a CT scan to reveal the truth about its origins© Provided by Daily Mail

'There were groups and technicians in Japan at the time who had the skills to make these elaborate mummies.

'One of the keywords in my research is demand - mummies were created because of demand.'

Announcing the study last year, Kinoshita described some of the religious significance of mermaids in Japan.

He said: 'Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality. It is said that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid, you will never die. 

Reference: Opinion by Milo Pope 

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