Mermaid biology

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Mermaids at Play, 1886, by Arnold Böcklin

Occasionally in literature the difficulty of having sexual intercourse with a mermaid is discussed. Although mermaids are commonly depicted as beautiful, variably nude, and enticing, a man attempting to have sex with one would be thwarted by the typical portrayal of the creature: a fish from the waist down, with no vagina.[1][2]

If the mermaid were biologically a fish below the waist, theoretically they would reproduce as most fish do, by external fertilization, requiring a human male to deposit his seed underwater onto her eggs. (The confusion is further compounded by the fact that mermaids are usually depicted with a navel and breasts,[3] which would suggest placental vivipary rather than ovipary.) In the past it was not uncommon for a mermaid (actually a medieval siren or limousine) to be portrayed as having a split tail, with a vagina located (or merely implied to be) between the two parts. H. P. Lovecraft's short story "Dagon" is an example of this.[4]

Challenges with depicting Mermaid morphology have also been an issue in relation to moviemaking efforts.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heinz Insu Fenkl: 'The Mermaid', Endicott Studio Journal of Mythic Arts, Summer 2003.
  2. ^ Essig, Laurie (2005). "The Mermaid and the Heterosexual Imagination". In Ingraham, Chrys. Thinking straight: the power, the promise, and the paradox of heterosexuality. Routledge. p. 152. ISBN 0415932734. 
  3. ^ University of Michigan (1823). The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany. Volume 15, Series 1. Wm. H. Allen & Co. p. 54. Retrieved 2008-02-24. Every other Mermaid that has been described, was human-shaped to the waist, usually with a navel, though in one instance without. 
  4. ^ Lovecraft, Howard P. (1986). "Dagon". In S. T. Joshi (ed.). Dagon and Other Macabre Tales (9th corrected printing ed.). Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-039-4. 
  5. ^ Thomas, Bob (December 30, 1947). "Problem: How to Create a Mermaid". The Owosso Argus-Press. Associated Press. Retrieved March 2, 2010.