Mystery of Creepy Mummified Monkey Mermaid Solved After CT Scan

The true origins of a strange, creepy "mummified mermaid" have finally been discovered after researchers comprehensively analyzed the creature

The mummy, which has been housed at the Enju-in Temple in Asakuchi City, Japan for many years, is around one foot long, and has a hairy, monkey-like upper body, a scaled fish-like tail, and pointed teeth. According to a note on the box it is stored inside, the creature was caught off the coast of modern day Kochi around 1740.

A team of researchers at the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts (KUSA) used "surface observations, X-rays, and X-ray CT scans of the mermaid mummies" to analyze the creature and determine if it was a real animal without destroying the specimen, according to the translation of their research report.

They also carried out "observations with optical microscopes and electron microscopes, fluorescent X- ray analysis, DNA analysis, and radiocarbon dating was carried out on the microbes that had fallen off from the mermaid mummies".

Mummy Mermaid Scan
Images from the CT (left) and X-ray scan (right) of the creature, and a picture of the creature in its box (center). The strange monkey mermaid was discovered to be a fake, made of fish skin and stuffed with fabric. Enju-in Collection "Mermaid Mummy" Research Team Kurashiki University of Science and Technology/

The strange monkey mermaid is said to be a "ningyo", which is a fish-human hybrid In Japanese mythology. Several similar specimens have been found across Japan, and are housed in various museums and temples around the country.

"There are two main types of mermaid mummy poses, one that looks like Munch's screaming, and the other that crawls," wrote the authors in the report. This creature in particular falls into the former category.

monkey mermaid
A front-facing view of the creature's CT scan. Enju-in Collection "Mermaid Mummy" Research Team Kurashiki University of Science and Technology

Under the CT scan, the researchers found that the creature had no skeleton at all, bar a single jawbone. They also found that the upper body was coated in puffer fish skin, and the lower fish tail was the skin of a croaker fish.

The hair on the creature's head is mammal hair, its jaw is that of an unknown species of carnivorous fish, and the nails on its fingers are animal keratin, possibly horn of some kind. Inside the creature's body was only cloth, paper, and cotton, and the body was coated in a substance made by mixing charcoal powder or sand with a paste, and the head with gypsum.

Radiocarbon dating of the creature found that, despite the note claiming the creature was caught in 1740, it was actually assembled in the late 1800s.

The exact circumstances surrounding the creature's "birth" and how it found its way to Enju-in remains unknown, as do the origins of the several other ningyo across Japan.

"When I was young, I was excited to read stories about youkai [mythical monsters] and legendary creatures in boys' magazines," Takashi Kato, one of the researchers and a professor at KUSA said in a statement. "I never thought, decades later, that I would be exposed to something like that and have the opportunity to study it first hand."

Do you have an animal or nature story to share with Newsweek? Do you have a question about mythical creatures? Let us know via