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A mermaid model of a sprite: The Horniman Museum’s 19th century monkey-fish

Are you going to be in England between May 8 and September 6? Don’t miss the Horniman Merman in the exhibition Myths and Monsters, at the Natural History Museum in Tring, UK.

This style of mermaid is actually a model of a ningyo or water sprite – a traditional feature found in some religious Shinto shrines in Japan. People used to think they were made by sewing a monkey to a fish, but when scientists examined the teeth and scanned the body of this model, they found it was made from fish, wood, wire and papier mâché. DNA testing is currently underway in an attempt to identify the fish species used. This may help confirm whether the specimen was made in Japan.

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