Merrylin Cryptid Museum: Proof for the Existence of Mythical Beings or Elaborate Hoaxes?
Numerous mythical creatures have been created Over the course of human history. Most of them were based on misunderstandings of real animals, plants, or even other human populations. Greek Legends of satyrs and dog-faced barbarians, for example, may have been based on distorted traveler’s accounts of apes and monkeys. Is it possible, however, that some mythical creatures may actually exist more or less as they were described in legend and myth? This is the claim of the Merrylin Cryptid Museum, which contains what it claims to be the bodily remains of a variety of fantastic creatures ranging from dragons to aliens. They could be genuine, but they also resemble specimens that turned out later to be hoaxes.
Unusual Specimens Found in a Basement
The creatures in the museum were apparently found in the 1960s in the basement of a mansion owned by Thomas Theodore Merrylin, a crypto-zoologist and an eccentric archaeologist. The specimens were found enclosed in boxes and resembled the withered skeletal remains of various fantastic creatures: mermaids, faeries, gnomes, dragons, vampires, and even some extraterrestrials. In addition to skeletal remains, some of the original tissue such as fur and scales were preserved on the remains.
Image said to depict Thomas Theodore Merrylin. ( Merrilyn Cryptid Museum )
Not all the specimens are fantastic. There are a few dinosaurs, for example, and some specimens which could just be unusual animals. On the other hand, items like regalia related to Cthulhu and the remains of an ancient pharaoh are less likely to be genuine, since they imply much more improbable things than just the existence of mythical creatures.
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““Menes” the Vampyr King of Egypt – The Demon Child Pharaoh” of the museum. ( Alex CF 2014 )
Fake Mermaid Tales
Just because the remains of creatures like werewolves have been found doesn’t mean that we can conclude that they exist. There was at least one case where the body of a fantastic creature was found but later turned out to be fake and was created through sewing together corpses of different animals. This example would be the Fiji Mermaid.
The Fiji Mermaid gained a surge of fame when, in the year 1842 in New York City, it was presented by a man claiming to be an English naturalist by the name of Dr. J. Griffin of the “British Lyceum of Natural History.” The tale he told was that he found the mermaid off the coast of the Fiji Islands in the south Pacific. Dr. Griffin was approached by a man named P.T. Barnum. According to the story, P.T. Barnum tried to pressure Dr. Griffin into putting the mermaid on display at his museum by publicizing the existence of the mermaid by giving woodcuts of mermaids to the press and claiming that they were depictions of the mermaids found by Dr. Griffin.
[Top] Fiji Mermaid, in the Folklore section at the Haus der Natur (House of Nature), a natural history collection in Salzburg, Austria. ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ) [Bottom] P.T. Barnums Feejee mermaid ( Public Domain )
After the creature was displayed, it was quickly revealed to be a hoax. It turned out that P.T. Barnum and Dr. Griffin were working together all along to pull off the deception. Dr. Griffin was not even a real naturalist but a conman named Levi Lyman. The Fiji Mermaid was in fact not a mermaid but a creature created by sewing the tail of a fish to the torso of a monkey. This particular act of sewing the tales of fish to the upper bodies of primates was an artform in Japan and the East Indies used to create half-monkey, half-fish figurines for religious purposes. The Fiji Mermaid was probably one of these.
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The Fiji Mermaid was most likely made around 1810 by a Japanese fisherman and sold to a British sea captain named Samuel Barret Eades in 1822 by Dutch merchants who had been to the East Indies or Japan. Eades attempted to make a profit from presenting it as a genuine mermaid. But his effort to gain a fortune through this turned out to be unsuccessful. After his death, it was passed to his son who sold it to a showman named Moses Kimball. P.T. Barnum in fact leased the Fiji Mermaid from Moses Kimball to present it as an actual creature discovered by Dr. Griffin.