Friday, December 3, 2010

The Mermaid's Fin

Out of sheer neglect, we never posted a picture of this beautiful mermaid sculpture that Holly sent from Kenya when she was there last summer.  As she said, they almost got it right.

But that's an interesting point.  What's 'right' when it comes to mermaids?

Do they look like this?

Or more lusty like this?

Or like this?

Or like these PT Barnum mermaids (that some claim were fakes)?

It's all well and good for people to talk casually about mermaids. But (as we discuss briefly in our book) this impinges on serious science vs just-so story-telling.  What do mermaid's actually look like?  And is there species diversity?  Or are these images from a gallery of mermaid mutants?

In an age where, as we regularly try to point out, proper science and its relationship with the media and its lobbying for funds often get at cross purposes, reliable answers are important.  If mermaids don't actually exist (except perhaps at the bottom of Loch Ness), or if they all look the same, then there is  likely nothing to apply for research funds to study.

BUT, if they have all this variation, then in the spirit of several things we've posted about over the past days and months (like the lusty finger-length stories!), mermaids may be prime targets for new, major, large-scale biobanking GWAS studies!

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