Leased by P.T. Barnum from another showman, the Feejee Mermaid was displayed to the world as a real mermaid caught near the Islands of Fiji.
Barnum’s ruse was complete with a fake naturalist named Dr. Griffin who was in reality an accomplice named Levi Lyman. Part orangutan and part salmon, the creature was most likely created by East-Asian sailors as part of a religious ritual.
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By Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons