Back to Africa Check

Skeleton of a mermaid? No, two real photos combined into one fake

An image showing what appears to be a freshly excavated mermaid skeleton has been making the rounds on social media. It shows the top half of a human skeleton joined at the pelvis to a headless skeleton of a fish.

The photo has been shared on one Facebook page with the comment, “Mermaid!?”, and on another with the caption: “Skeleton of a Mermaid”.

It’s been online for at least seven years. In June 2012 a Bulgarian website published the photo with a report that it was an “ancient skeleton of a mermaid discovered by a professor”.

Photoshopped image entered in design contest

A reverse image search reveals that the image has been manipulated, with two different photos – one of a fish skeleton, another of a human skeleton – put together to make the fake mermaid skeleton.

The original human skeleton was published on an archaeology blog on 21 October 2011. There it is labelled as BI South, Haymarket, and described as a person “carefully buried just to the south in the foundation trench of an early eighteenth-century house on Haymarket” in Ireland.

The photoshopped mermaid first appeared online as an entry in Archaeological Anomalies 13, an image manipulation contest on DesignCrowd. It’s credited to a designer with the screen handle the1calledDANO.

We examined the image’s metadata using an online tool and found it was created in Photoshop in June 2012 – around the time it appeared on the Bulgarian website.

It also appears on a DesignCrowd blog post titled Giant Skeletons Seem Too Real To Be A Hoax, where it’s credited to a designer called The1Calleddano.

The image has also been debunked by fact-checkers at Snopes and Hoax-Slayer.

And there’s no harm in repeating the fact that mermaids are mythical creatures.- Dancan Bwire (11/06/2019).


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.