The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has clarified and confirmed that no evidence of existence of mermaids has ever been found.
"No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That's a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists," NOAA said in a statement denying the existence of half-female, half-fish creatures of the sea.
NOAA issued the statement in view of Animal Planet's science fiction documentary called Mermaids: The Body Found, which was aired on 27 May. The filmmakers claimed that their film "paints a wildly convincing picture of the existence of mermaids, what they may look like and why they've stayed hidden until now."
Mermaids have been chronicled in multiple sea fables of several countries since time immemorial. The earliest reference to these magical female figures perhaps comes from the Stone Age cave paintings of the late Paleolithic period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans just began to sail the seas.
"The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species," the NOAA added.
Mermaids have been perceived differently in different cultures.
"The ancient Greek epic poet Homer wrote of them in The Odyssey. In the ancient Far East, mermaids were the wives of powerful sea-dragons, and served as trusted messengers between their spouses and the emperors on land. The aboriginal people of Australia call mermaids yawkyawks - a name that may refer to their mesmerizing songs."
In addition to mermaids, there are several other half-human creatures that abound in mythology and folklores - chimeras, centaurs, satyrs and minotaurs to name a few.
Mermen are thought to be the male version of mermaids with upper body like that of a man, and have been talked about in world mythology. In Finnish mythology, a merman has been portrayed as a powerful creature able to cure and free people from curses, while according to Irish mythology, mermen are ugly creatures.
Indian mythology considers merman to be the God, as it is said to be the first incarnation of the Indian Lord Vishnu, one who supports, sustains and governs the universe.