Alien? Cryptid? Mermaid? In fact, this strange-looking creature was likely the handiwork of Belgian sailors, who in centuries past regularly collected the carcasses of normal rays and skates, dried them, and added a coat of varnish to preserve them. Then they carved them into fanciful forms that resembled dragons or demons or mermaids and sold them to travelers. The earliest known picture of a Jenny Haniver appeared in Konrad Gesner’s Historia Animalium Vol. IV in 1558. Also known as Devil Fish, or Jenny Haviers, the exact origin of their name is unknown, but it is likely derived from the French phrase jeune d’Anvers or “youth of Antwerp,” and was later bastardized by British collectors.
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