Creatures From The Deep
Over the few years or so there has been an increased interest in mermaids, films, pictures and first hand sightings have been showing up all over the world. You simply have to check out You Tube to find dozens of these.
Traditionally mermaids were aquatic creatures with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. They have appeared in folklore around the world for years both helping and hindering humans. Although some mermaids are described as monstrous and ugly, they are more usually very beautiful. Above the waist they appear as a lovely young woman, with flowing locks and a beautiful beguiling face.
The first mermaid probably came from ancient Syrian (~ 1000 BC), there was a goddess who went by the name of Atargatis. She was a fertility goddess whose cult eventually spread to Greece and Rome and was associated with water (especially lakes) and fish. Often depicted in mermaid form, she may have been the beginning of a legend.
The first recorded sightings were by the Arabs and the Greek Pliny around 580, Vikings and Saxons reported them off the coast of Scotland, Medieval sailors saw them around the world and this continued until the 1900's. British folklore portrays mermaids as the bringers of bad luck, the precursors to violent storms, beguiling sailors to take them to their death in the underworld and the sinking of ships.
However in Scotland mermaids were known to bring cures to human aliments and granting them wishes. They even married humans staying on land to be with them or taking their husbands beneath the waves to live with them.
Today we see mermaids as gentle sweet creatures thanks to Disney and a few other key films. Not that Walt was alone with this theory many cultures believed that these beings were immortal and had powers ranging from the ability to cure disease to granting wishes to being able to share their immortality.
Today's renewed interest in mermaids is due to possible sightings of them and a documentary that showed a possible captured mermaid. There have been two notable sightings of mermaids in recent years. In 2012 a group of workers in Zimbabwe refused to work on two different reservoirs because they said that the mermaid creatures were forcing them away from the sites and wouldn't leave them alone. Another incident happened on a Sri Lankan beach, where there was supposedly a corpse of a mermaid discovered washed onto shore.
There are theories that ancient man in times of atmospheric changes learnt to hold their breath under water to be able to hunt fish when very little food was available on land. Over time they developed gills and fins similar to our hands and feet probably at the similar rate that we developed from Neanderthal man. Alleged mermaid remains show a creature with identical spinal column, heart and lungs to humans then fins and flippers instead of hands and feet.
But the jury is out do they exist or are they simply seals or Dugongs? Let us know on Twitter what you think.