(belong to family Hominidae)
|Average height||Similar to humans|
|Place of origin||African shallow seas|
|Behind the Scenes|
|Universe||Mermaids: The Body Found|
Mermaids are an intelligent species of oceanic hominids whose existence has been registered in the mythology of numerous human cultures since the dawn of civilization. However, they have been hunted by humans and learned to hide from them, retreating deeper into the ocean. Concrete evidence about their existence started to emerge only in 2004.
They share a common ancestry with humans. The ancestral form of both species was a kind of hominid ape which inhabited coasts and shallow seas somewhere in Africa, about seven million years ago. From these ancestral apes emerged two distinct lineages: one which retreated back to land and gave rise to humans; and one which went further into the sea and eventually gave rise to mermaids.
Modern mermaids possess several adaptations to life in the open seas. Most notably, their legs have fused together to form a tail, and their hands - although still highly dexterous and useful for manipulating tools - are webbed. Their skin is hairless, and their eyes are well-developed and able to see in the dark. Other adaptations include a hinged ribcage to protect their organs from the extreme pressure of the deep, and special proteins which allow them to store oxygen in muscle tissue. They're capable of holding their breath for almost an hour, which enables them to dive deeper in search for food.
Unlike other aquatic mammals, mermaids are omnivorous and have retained a heterodont dentition, just like humans. Like dolphins, they possess a melon - an organ that gives them the ability of echolocation, which they also use to communicate with their own species as well as with dolphins. Their language is described as highly complex.
Culture and society
Mermaids are gregarious creatures and seem to be very loyal to their group. When facing a dangerous predator, such as a megalodon, a mermaid may sacrifice herself by drawing the predator's attention, allowing the rest of the group - including the children - to swim away safely. Like humans, mermaids are tool-makers. They hunt large fish using spears armed with stingray stingers.
They seem to have developed a symbiotic relationship with dolphins, as both species will often collaborate in hunting and avoiding predators such as sharks. Additionally, mermaids will typically travel along with large whales for protection, and might even accompany the whales in their annual migration routes.