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So much for finding Ariel. As far as scientists are concerned, there is no scientific proof of mermaids yet, the United States' oceanic body insisted this week.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stressed this about a month after a science TV show featuring mermaids was aired.
"But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists," the NOAA said on its website.
Yet, it noted the half-human, half-fish sirens of the sea had been chronicled in maritime cultures since time immemorial.
It added the belief in mermaids may have started at the dawn of our species.
"Magical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Paleolithic (Stone Age) period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans gained dominion over the land and, presumably, began to sail the seas. Half-human creatures, called chimeras, also abound in mythology — in addition to mermaids, there were wise centaurs, wild satyrs, and frightful minotaurs, to name but a few," NOAA said.
Even the ancient Greek epic poet Homer wrote of them in The Odyssey, while in the ancient Far East, mermaids were the wives of powerful sea-dragons, and served as trusted messengers between their spouses and the emperors on land.
The aboriginal people of Australia call mermaids yawkyawks – a name that may refer to their mesmerizing songs, it added.
But an article on Discovery News suggested the NOAA's statement was posted online a month after Animal Planet, a branch of Discovery, last month aired a TV show called Mermaids: The Body Found.
It said the documentary-style show had suggested "a wildly convincing picture of the existence of mermaids, what they may look like, and why they’ve stayed hidden...until now.”
Though the filmmakers acknowledged that the film is science fiction, for many people it was indeed “wildly convincing,” it said.
"The show was an X-Files type fanciful mix of state-of-the-art computer generated animation, historical fact, conspiracy theory, and real and faked footage sprinkled with enough bits of scientific speculation and real science to make it seem plausible. In fact there were even interviews with real NOAA scientists," it added.
Discovery News also cited an article by New York Times reviewer Neil Genzlinger that noted the story is “a fictional account built on a few strands of fact and made to look like an actual documentary."
It added the title and premise of the show, “The Body Found,” is completely fictional but hardly the first faux-documentary show to fool people.
A 1995 Fox television special called Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction used many of the same techniques and convinced many people with superficially plausible (though faked) footage of an alien autopsy, it pointed out.
"Interestingly, NOAA has a history of addressing a few legends relating to oceans, including Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle. Part of NOAA’s mission is public education and outreach, and if they get enough queries from the public on a given topic (even a mythical one) it’s likely they will address it," Discovery News said. — TJD, GMA News