Mermaids and Mermen

Some of the most intelligent people in early modern Europe were convinced of the existence of merpeople.

'Monstra Niliaca Parei', from Aldrovandi’s History of Monsters, 1642.

Cotton Mather penned a letter to the Royal Society in London dated 5 July 1716. Such an action was hardly out of the ordinary. The 53-year-old Boston naturalist often sent letters abroad detailing his scientific and philosophical findings. Yet the letter’s subject was somewhat curious. Titled ‘A Triton’, the seemingly simple note revealed a complicated admission: Cotton Mather’s sincere belief in the existence of merpeople.

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