Creatures, Myths & Legends
Scientists unravel the mystery of Japan's mummified 'mer-monkey'
By T.K. Randall
February 22, 2023 · 7 comments
This is one ugly-looking 'mermaid'. Image Credit: KUSA
The remains of a creature described as a 'mer-monkey' have been kept at Japan's Enju-in Temple for decades.
Japan is said to be home to quite an assortment of mythological creatures including the ningyo, which is a type of fish-human hybrid, and the kappa - a green, human-like entity with webbed hands and a turtle-like carapace on its back.
While few people would ever expect to see one of these creatures in the flesh, visitors to the Enju-in Temple in Asakuchi City can actually cast eyes upon the mummified remains of something very similar - a monkey-like creature with pointed teeth and fish-like scales.
Exactly where this bizarre specimen originated remains unclear, but over the last 12 months scientists from the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts (KUSA) have been carefully studying the remains in an effort to piece together exactly what it is and what it is made of.
Using a combination of X-ray imaging, CT scans, DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating, the team discovered that the 'mer-monkey' was in fact a hodge-podge of parts from various other things.
Completely lacking any internal skeletal structure, the creature is made primarily of cloth, cotton and paper which has then been covered in some sort of substance made from charcoal and sand.
The hair on its head is animal hair, while its scales come from two different types of fish.
Its torso is covered in the skin of a pufferfish, while its nails seem to be made from animal horns.
"The fish body of the 'Dried Mermaid' in the collection of Enju-in is covered with the skin of a croaker, and the upper body is made of cloth and paper," the team wrote.
"It is made of laminated paper and puffer fish skin, with cotton and other fillings and a plaster-like substance as the base, and is presumed to have been made around the late 1800s."
Source: Science Alert
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