Instructions for making your own merbeing

Friend of the site Paolo Viscardi is featured in this piece that investigates a “merman” at his museum. This is SO COOL!

Mysterious mermaid stripped naked
Paolo Viscardi reveals what it takes to make a convincing, fake mermaid

The Horniman Merman - "Japanese Monkey Fish"

The Horniman Merman – “Japanese Monkey Fish”

Called the “Japanese Monkey-fish”, it turns out it is not monkey at all:

“Is it real?” is the first question that most of the museum’s visitors ask and they are all dutifully disappointed by the equivocal answer that it’s a real object, but not a real merman. “What is it made of?” is the second most common enquiry and one to which we now have an answer.

It quickly became apparent that in spite of appearances the merman did not contain a trace of monkey. The main clue lay in the teeth, which lacked the typical simian pattern of having four incisors in the top jaw and four in the bottom. In fact, it lacked the standard mammalian feature of having properly defined incisors altogether, raising questions about just what teeth they were.

The teeth were of fish. The arms were of wire. The body made of wood, clay, fabric, and papier mache with a fish tale on the end.

Here is the revolving CT scan.

Check out the Guardian piece for instructions on making your own mermaid gaff. Paolo also wrote about publishing his work on this on his blog. Mermania! | Zygoma.

This was an incredible piece of investigation. Please share it!

Paolo had previously examined the Atacama “alien” body. The story about that is here.

Tip: Matt Crowley

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  4 comments for “Instructions for making your own merbeing

  1. Andrew
    April 16, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    “The body made of wood, clay, fabric, and papier mache with a fish tale…”

    I think that was either a clever joke or a Freudian slip, the whole thing is a fish tale!

  2. Ryan
    April 16, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Isn’t this old news? I remember reading this several times on various science blogs a few years ago. If I remember correctly it was even covered on monster talk. Might have been a different monkey though.

  3. Markus
    April 16, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    It´s a quite common misbelief that feejee mermaids were usually made from the upper part of a monkey and the tail of a fish. In fact only quite few specimens really include monkey parts. Instead the head, arms and torso were usually made from a mix of wire, wood, papermaché and other materials like cloth for example. Teeth were sometimes made from fish teeth.

  4. Nos482
    April 16, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Heh… suck it, Discovery Channel.

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