Well, they have at least existed, if we are to believe a late Mr Normal Luxton in Banff Hotsprings, who claimed to have found one. Or... well... not exactly a mermaid, but a mer-man!
This mummified creature, half fish, half human (sort of!) has been puzzling visitors to Banff for over 90 years.
"Mr Luxton brought it here to the store over 90 years ago, and he was very secretive about where he found it. Unfortunately he passed away before he told anybody where he found it", says staff at the Banff Indian Trading Post, where the strange mummified creature is displayed.
Legends of Mermaids and Mermen has been flourishing among the natives of Canada, as well as in ancient Europe, and at the time of Mr Luxton, in the late 1800: eds and early 1900:eds, many had claimed to have seen similar creatures in the woods and lakes of Southern Alberta.
Norman Luxton claimed to have found the creature on native land and said it had been a sacred object of some of the tribes in the area, but refused to say more.
What to think?
This freaky creature, which most closely reminds one of Tolkien's Gollum, at first glance appears quite believable. Having a closer look, however, makes one wonder. How about that hair? And that head?
There is something odd about it, but it's hard to put one's finger on it.
On the other hand, there are parts of this "mummy" that are very believable indeed. Anyone who has ever seen a human Egyptian mummy will see right away that this creature is not made from paper and wood, but from actual animal tissue that has been dried and preserved. This is exactly why it feels so freaky. You don't know what to think.
The fish tail of the Merman is the most believable part - probably because it is from a real fish.
However, the joining of the fish tail with the supposed rib cage of whatever animal is supposed to be the upper body if the creature, looks sort of "fishy".
Nevertheless, seeing it is like being transported into a live freak show, or into the private night mare of some strange, twisted person's mind.
At the end of the day, it is the head that is the least convincing part of the Merman.
Whatever material it was made of, it cannot be a real animal head.
Or can it? Which animal would it be?
And the hair... would it really look like that if it was....
The questions kept boring into my mind. I could not sleep that night. The enigma of the Merman kept me awake.
It is the detail and the care with which this "mummy" has been made that makes it disturbing.
The fact that somebody - the late Norman Luxton - went to great lengths creating this thing, is almost as freaky as the idea that it might be real.
At the Banff Indian Trading Post, staff swears no one really knows if it is real or not.
At the Banff museum, on the other hand, staff swears that it was made as a gag, just for laughs.
An intricate part of this story is that mr Norman Luxton was a taxidermist by profession, a man who used to stuff wild animals for a living.
Photo (Above and below) : Courtesy of the Banff Indian Trading Post, Banff, AB, Canada.
Ok, Mr Luxton. So you used to stuff animals for a living. Moose, deer, birds and bears.
Why did you make this thing, Norman? Why on heavens earth, WHY?
You never made a buck on it, you never created a stir about it.
You just brought it to the trading post 90 years ago, left it there, and then died without ever saying a single word to clear the fog about the origins of the "Merman".
Is that what taxidermy does to a mans mind? Then I'd say lets lock the bunch up and let them practice their strange art in jail, just to be sure...