The Mermaid De-Extinction Project

Client: CBI
Deliverable: Forensically Unfalsified Mermaid Genome
Estimated Completion Date: TBD
Estimated Cost: >$240,000,000
Funds Secured: CBI

Sample Data (GBS format):
Syrene Mitochondria

The Mermaid De-Extinction Project uses whole genome design and synthesis toward the increase and diffusion of 21st century mermaid sightings through the production of the first ever draft sequence Mermaid Genome.

Phase 1: Cloning DNA From  Specimens
The De-extinction of a species begins with the recovery of DNA from well-preserved specimens. The so-called “Marcos Mermaid” is one of only a handful of specimens that has survived intact into the 21st century, resurfacing in the early 1980’s in the collection of Imelda Marcos, wife of the notorious Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Soft tissue extracted from the tail-fin of the Marcos Mermaid  failed to yield any viable genetic material.

Phase 2: The Single-Celled Mermaid
The science of tissue culture bypasses some of the limitations inherent to the reproduction of whole organisms. Pairs of individual cells from different species may, under the right conditions, join their membranes together and hybridize through a process called cellular fusion. A successful merging between fish and primate cell lines has the potential to produce short-lived single-celled mermaids. Unfortunately, biological limitations inherent to cellular division doom even these theoretical mermaids to life-spans of no more than 20 minutes.

Phase 3: The Mermaid Genome Project
The Mermaid Genome Project unites the practices of synthetic biology, and machine learning, with ancestral gene resurrection, and conventional aquaculture. In the three step process, genes associated with human hair, skin, terrestrial respiration, speech, and cognition, are inserted into the DNA of a South Pacific salmon. Next, fertilized salmon eggs undergo whole genome replacement, while the resulting embryos are screened for phenotypic markers of success. Finally, populations of exclusively female mermaids are raised in land-locked containment ponds, while awaiting FDA approval for general release.

For millenia, stories of mermaid sightings have appeared during times of uncertainty. Often these encounters occur when the human capacity to act on the world outpaces their understanding of it.

By the 18th century, in the West, mermaid sightings first came under the scruitiny of the emerging concept of science. Mermaids were not immediatly dismissed  by scientists. They had long appeared in published literature. And an increasing number of sightings were being returned from the far flung reaches of the British Empire. These accumulated into a persistently growing credulity even amongst learned scientists.

However it was not until the 19th century that physical specimens purporting to be actual mermaids began circulating within Europe and the United States. Under close examination, these “Feejee” mermaids turned out to be simply well-executed taxidermy mashups, uniting the upper half of a juvenile orangutan with the lower half of an adult salmon. While these specimens appeared to have a plausible mermaid morphology, they lacked the genetic basis necessary to propagate living mermaids. 

The Mermaid De-Extinction Project is established to revive and restore mermaid and merperson credulity through the production of scientifically plausible mer-sightings. Mermaid evidence, recognized by 21st century science.


Bartholin, Thomas. “Of the Mermaids, &c. From the Miscellanea Naturae Curiosorum, Dec. 1, 1671.” In Acta Germanica: or, the literary Memoirs of Germany, &c. Vol. 1.120. London: G. Smith, 1742.

Bondeson, Jan. “The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History.” Cornell University Press. 2014.

Carl Linnaeus to Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien, 29 Agusut 1749. “The Linnaean Correspondence.”

Linnaeus, Carl, and Abraham Osterdam. Siren lacertina, dissertatione academica orbi erudito data. Uppsala, 1766.

Mather, Cotton. Diary of Cotton Mather, 1681-1708. Volume 7. Boston: The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1911.

Pennsylvania Gazette, 6 May 1736.
Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, PM #97-39-70/72853
Scribner, Vaughn. “Such Monsters Do Exist in Nature: Mermaids, Tritons, and the Science of Wonder in the Eighteenth-Century Europe.”

If not now, when?  

Siren Genomics serves a unique partnership between biotechnology, mythology, and eschatology.