This freaky mermaid-monkey residing in a Japanese temple may not be what it seems, scientists report

This bizarre mermaid-monkey mummy resides in the Enju-in Temple in Asakuchi City, Japan. A handwritten note inside the creature's box explains that it was caught in Japanese waters in 1740. Called a ningyo, these freaky specimens are not entirely uncommon in temples and museums, but the mystery of this particular one has finally been solved. A team from the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts (KUSA) used a variety of medical imaging tools, DNA analysis, and radiocarbon dating to study the oddity without damaging it. (See the rotating 3D scan below.)Turns out, it's… (drumroll)… a fake.

[…] The most glaring thing was, aside from a mandible, the ningyo is completely lacking in skeletal architecture ā€“ so it's not even, as was the case with P.T. Barnum's Fiji Mermaid hoax, some ghastly Frankenstein of monkey and fish corpses sewn together.

he scans revealed that the object is a hodge-podge of parts. No wood was used in the mer-monkey's construction; instead, it's mainly made of cloth, cotton, and paper, coated in a substance made by mixing charcoal powder or sand with a paste. The head is mostly cotton, and coated in a substance like gypsum.

The hair on the head is animal hair, and the scales come from two kinds of fish. The upper body is covered in skin from puffer fish, and the lower body the scaly skin of a species of croaker. The nails on the five fingers are animal keratin, likely some kind of horn. The jawbone was from some sort of carnivorous fish.

Here's the final report from KUSA: "Elucidation of the reality of mermaid mummies/Final report on research on 'Mermaid mummies' owned by Enju-in"

image: KUSA