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The Long, Strange Legacy of One of the World's Earliest Fake Mermaids

One of the earliest references to a Jenny Haniver dates to the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner’s Historia Animalium, from the 1550s. In a shop, Gessner had spotted a gruesome bit of creative taxidermy made from the remains of an aquatic ray, probably the work of a sailor hoping to pass it off as some kind of mythical sea creature. Gessner wasn't fooled, but he did warn that "ordinary people are very much impressed with these things.
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