We find them in songs, books and even in food brands. What is it that attracts us to them? We tell you.
Mermaids, underwater creatures that are half fish and half human, don’t exist except in people’s imaginations .
Scientists studying the ocean in the United States have investigated their possible existence and say no evidence of mermaids has ever been found.
You may be wondering why government scientists investigated this question. There are many stories about mermaids on TV, the internet, and magazines that purport to be real science news.
They try to fool people into believing that mermaids are real, without any real evidence. This is called cryptoscience or cryptozoology, but it is not real science.
Don’t let intriguing stories fool you about mermaids and other funny but made-up creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster.
But just because mermaids aren’t real doesn’t mean they aren’t significant. Mermaids, or mermen as they are sometimes called because they are not all women, have a long history and are known throughout the world, in the same way as dragons, fairies and unicorns .
More than one type of mermaid
Some of the earliest mermaid stories are part of ancient Greek mythology from over 3,000 years ago. The Greeks imagined many creatures that were part human and part animal, such as harpies (birds and humans) and centaurs (horses and humans).
Sometimes her sirens were good, like the Greek goddess Atargatis, who protected humans, but other times they were dangerous, like the ones who sang beautiful songs that made sailors crash their ships against rocks and sink.
Irish mermaids, called merrows , dating back 1,000 years, were also considered a sign of bad luck.
Mermaid bodies have been imagined differently in different places. There is a legendary Japanese mermaid named ningyo , who is mostly a fish, but has a human face.
Perhaps you’ve seen the animated movie Ponyo , about a girl-faced goldfish? In Europe, there were mermaids called melusines that had two fish tails.
Mermaid stories also varied depending on where and when they were told. Only a few are about mermaids who fall in love and want to be human, like Ariel and Ponyo .
In the storybook Mermaids from Mars , for example, the mermaids have consumed all the water on Mars and have come to Earth to help people learn the lesson of water conservation.
In many places, mermaids were used as symbols of power and wealth.
For example, the city of Warsaw in Poland has a legend of a mermaid who is considered the protector of the city. There is a huge statue of her there, and she even appears on the city’s coat of arms. Many castles in Europe also have siren symbols to show royal power and wealth, even in countries without oceans, such as Austria.
Why the sirens?
You may be wondering how mermaids came to be. Why have so many people around the world imagined them throughout history? It’s an interesting question that probably has more than one answer.
Superstitious sailors, including Christopher Columbus and others, reported seeing them on their voyages, but scientists and historians believe they probably saw real animals, such as manatees or seals.
Over time, people have often created stories to help explain all sorts of things that they couldn’t understand at the time. Stories also help people understand their own dreams, wishes, and fears.
No matter what the reasons are, people still love mermaids. You can buy mermaid dolls, coloring books, and costumes. You’ll find them on flags, coins, and Starbucks coffee.
In some aquariums and water parks, real people act like mermaids and have to practice holding their breath and keeping their eyes open underwater for a long time.
There’s even a brand of cotton candy called Mermaid Farts , which is described as “sweet and fluffy.”
Although mermaids are not really real, they can fuel your imagination and creativity. They are also important because they are a shared idea that has united people from all over the world for a long time.