Lauren Reid Headshot

Mermaids are one of the oldest wives’ tales on Earth. Children are introduced to these supposedly mythical creatures at a very young age. I know “The Little Mermaid” was definitely a favorite of mine as a kid. But not all tales include mermaids as sweet, helpful and harmless creatures. Let’s dive right in, and talk about sirens.

The rumors of sirens came about a long time ago too, dating back to Ancient Greece. In mythology, these creatures are evil temptresses who lure sailors to their deaths through songs or chants. Back in the day, many sailors reported seeing these sea maids while out on the open water for a long period of time. There was never any hard evidence, but paintings, sculptures, myths and tales have lived on through history. Entertainment media has fed into this version of a mermaid too, through movies and shows where sirens have fangs or claws for hands.

On the other, more common, side of things, mermaids have been described as beautiful, alluring and peaceful creatures. This idea of a mermaid is more common in media, seen in motion pictures like “H20,” “Peter Pan” and, as I previously mentioned, “The Little Mermaid" that all portray these pleasant ideas of a mermaid. Again, this wives’ tale stemmed from sailors or fishermen. There’s a theory that those fishermen were out on the water for so long that they started to go a little crazy, even mistaking manatees as mermaids.

A theory that became extremely popular in the ’70s and ’80s is the Aquatic Ape Theory. The theory piggybacks off the theory that humans evolved from apes. In this theory, it’s believed that early hominids lived in the water at least half of the time. This is supposed to explain why we have hairless bodies or a fat layer that resembles blubber from a whale.

The theory that has captivated me the most, and has me leaning towards the “mermaids are real” side of this debate, is also about evolution. It dabbles a little into the story of creation from a Christian viewpoint, but we’ll place that on the back burner for now.

Essentially, the idea is that mermaids have existed from the start, even before humans. Think about the life of a frog, how it starts as a tadpole, has that period of time where it looks like a fish with little legs and then is a frog. What if humans also went through that time where they were half-fish and half-human, before Pangea split? What if, when that split did happen, less open ocean was available and land became obstacles?

I mean, couldn’t that explain Dwarka, otherwise known as the city we found underwater in 1988? That finding itself should’ve raised some eyebrows. A whole city, with buildings and grids, was found hundreds of feet underwater and no one questioned how it got there? Do we really think it just sank below sea level?

Whichever theory is true or not true doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the evidence. There are videos, skeletons, reports and photos of mermaid life. A video of men in hazmat suits, pulling what looked like remains of a half-human half-fish body from a lake, scattered the internet a few years back. There’s another aerial video of what looks exactly like a mermaid, laying on a rock and slipping into the ocean as soon as it sees the camera.

In 2012, a mermaid skeleton washed up on shore in Bulgaria. Again, in June of this year, a skeleton, that is extremely similar to the one of 2012, was found on a British coast. Though both of these skeletons were dated to early centuries, specifically the 13th, it’s still hard evidence that these bedtime story creatures were once real.

Rumor has it ... an underwater world exists.

Lauren Reid is a senior at UT this year majoring in journalism. She can be reached at lreid9@vols.utk.edu.

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