Half human, half fish: Discovered a 300-year-old ‘mermaid mummy’ being probed by scientists

The mummified creature is believed to have been caught between 1736 and 1741 from the sea. Scientists will now study its origin.

A baffling mummified creature with a face resembling a human but a long fish-like tail is now being probed by Japanese scientists. Preserved in a temple in Asakuchi city of Okayama prefecture in the Honshu Island of Japan, the creature is said to have been caught from the Pacific Ocean near the Shikoku Island around 300 years ago.

Shaped like a mermaid, the creature is just 12-inch tall. It appears to have hair, teeth, nails, and a lower body with scales.

As per leading Japanese news outlet Asahi Shimbun, the mermaid mummy surfaced inside a box. It came with a note which said that the creature was caught between 1736 and 1741 at sea. Kept by families over generations, it finally was passed on to the temple, where it remained housed for over 40 years.

What scientists are exploring is if they can trace back to the origin of the creature to understand the class of species to which it actually belongs. The mummy is undergoing CT scan enabled studies at the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts’ veterinary hospital.

The creature came to light when Okayama Folklore Society’s Hiroshi Kinoshita chanced on it when working on the works of a Japanese natural historian called Kiyoaki Sato who studied such mysterious creatures.

Local belief includes claims that tasting the mummy’s flesh can make one immortal. Kisoshita told a US news outlet that “Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality. It is said that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid, you will never die.”

One claim of the origins is that it might be a hoax and the creature may be an article of show meant to be exported to Europe, DNA sister concern WION reported. The findings of the scientists are expected to be published later in the year.