Where do myths about fish with human faces come from?


Quick Answer

The mermaid is everywhere in popular culture, but there other mythological creatures who gave rise to the representation of the fish-human hybrid. The myth dates back as far as Babylonian culture around 2,000 B.C. The Babylonian version of the fish human has a male upper body, classifying him as a mermen. He is more powerful than a mermaid, having deity status much like the well-known Greek god, Triton.

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Full Answer

The concept of a half fish, half human creature is embedded within humanity's collective consciousness. Nearly 75 percent of the Earth consists of water, and the earliest tales about these hybrids originate from god-fearing cultures that respect and fear nature. Since observable nature is the life force of a pre-science civilization, these cultures suggest only gods are powerful enough to have dominion over these areas.

The sea is a central place to witness the force of nature in action, giving rise to these early myths about sea creatures. Many of the first civilizations, living near oceans, are known for braving the vast waters to explore the unknown and tell stories about all manners of magical things that reside in such powerfully mysterious places.

Early descriptions of these sea creatures suggest they are cunning and dangerous, whether male or female. In a few places, such as Scotland and Whales, the folklore is kinder to these marine creatures. Reports of mermaids still exist.

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