Real or Hoax? Mermaid Skeleton Found in New Zealand's Southland

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By Reissa Su | January 30, 2014 1:39 PM EST

A skeleton of what appears to be an "aquatic humanoid" or the legendary "mermaid" was allegedly discovered by a crew of fishermen whose ship sailed on the east coast of South Island in New Zealand after last week's storm.

The seven fishermen from Papua New Guinea thought they found a female corpse in the coastal sands and assumed it was the remains of a crime victim or someone who died by accident. The fishermen contacted the New Zealand coast guard to alert the authorities. The coast guard sought the help of federal police since they thought they were dealing with a dead body.

After the authorities cleared the sand, it was obvious that the skeletal remains did not belong to a human being. New Zealand police public relations officer Bernard Jenkins said they were not "exactly certain" what they were dealing with, but they have sought assistance from forensic and anthropological experts from the University of Auckland to identify the skeletal remains.

The announcement of the discovery of a possible aquatic humanoid or mermaid skeleton will surely cause excitement in the scientific community as archaeologists and biologists speculate about the possibility of finding a different humanoid species that may have adapted to water.

The story of the mermaid skeleton has been shared in Twitter and Facebook on Jan 29.

Human fascination of mermaids

Mermaids have long fascinated humans that many books, stories and even movies were inspired by the mythical creatures. Since the Earth is covered in nearly three quarters of water, the oceans were believed to contain mysterious creatures yet to be discovered like sea serpents and mermaids. People may have wondered about their existence centuries ago.

Former curator of the Royal College of Surgeons of England CJS Thompson wrote in his book The Mystery and Lore of Monsters that legends of half-human and half-fish creatures have existed for thousands of years.

Since then, mermaid "sightings" have been reported and spread around the world. The interest in mermaids was so great that some people created elaborate hoax stories of mermaid sightings.  The famous "Feejee Mermaid" in the 1840s was created by P.T. Barnum who made it a popular attraction. Many people were willing to pay money to see a "real mermaid" but they were disappointed to find a fake corpse. Although it was an obvious fake, some people during that time believed it was real.

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