A mysterious mummified creature, believed by many in Japan to be a mermaid, is being investigated by scientists as of Thursday, March 2, to reveal its origins and unlock the possible secrets contained within its body.

The foot-long creature, which was allegedly first caught by a fisherman in the Pacific Ocean between 1736 and 1741, has been kept at a temple in the city of Asakuchi for at least 40 years, backed by a letter dated in 1903 that states its origins, according to the New York Post.

Many local folklore experts say that eating the flesh of a mermaid in Japan could potentially extend life or render it immortal, or that the appearance of a mermaid predicted infectious diseases that appeared in the country.

“Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality. It is said that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid, you will never die. There is a legend in many parts of Japan that a woman accidentally ate the flesh of a mermaid and lived for 800 years,” folklore expert Hiroshi Kinoshita said.

The mummified creature, which has been kept in a fireproof box for the past forty years, is now being sent to the veterinary hospital at the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts to undergo CT scans, DNA tests, and other scientific measures to determine the authenticity of the object, the Independent reported.

“Of course, I don’t think it’s a real mermaid,” Kinoshita said. “I think this was made for export to Europe during the Edo period, or for spectacles in Japan. The legend of mermaids remains in Europe, China, and Japan all over the world. Therefore, I can imagine that people at that time were also very interested in it.”

When asked what he believed the creature was made of, Kinoshita replied, “I think it is made from living animals and we would like to identify them by CT scans or DNA testing.”

In spite of the skepticism of Kinoshita towards the creature, many of the locals who worship it in the Enjuin temple in Asakuchi swear by the ultimate power of the creature.

“We have worshipped it, hoping that it would help alleviate the coronavirus pandemic even if only slightly. I hope the research project can leave records for future generations,” head priest Kozen Kuida said.

A mummified creature believed to be a "mermaid" by a local Japanese temple is being investigated by a nearby local scientific team to better find and understand its origins. This is a representational image. Annette Batista Day/Unsplash.

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