|The Feejee mermaid|
The original Feejee mermaid was exhibited by P.T. "there's one born every minute" Barnum in the 19th century. It probably originated in Japan, where they have a tradition of creative taxidermy that deserves its own post, and was apparently made from a monkey torso stitched to a fish tail. Barnum wasn't the only one exhibiting marvels of nature that were really marvels of art. Sideshows and dime museums often had similar attractions.
|Close up of the tail|
Here’s a fascinating video showing how this kind of mermaid was made. Thanks to Dark Artifacts for posting the link!
You’ll see in the video that the mermaid is largely made out of paper mache and wire; my version is too, except that I’ve used aluminium foil instead of wire.
David from Dark Artifacts made his own version of the mermaid, and you can find it here.