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No. 27: May-Jun 1983

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Does ri = mermaid?

The astounding item that follows is taken from the new journal Cryptozoology, which is the official journal of the International Society of Cryptozoology. The Society was founded by a group of scientists interested in unrecognized species of animals.

"An aquatic creature roughly resembling the traditional 'mermaid,' and sometimes identified with it, is reportedly known through a variety of encounters with natives of Central New Ireland. The ri, as they are called, are frequently sighted by fishermen, occasionally netted or found dead on beaches, and sometimes eaten. Males, females and juveniles are reported, subsisting on fish in the shallow seas around the Bismarck and Solomon archipelagos. It is unlikely that the animals are dugongs or porpoises, both of which are known to, and readily identified by, the natives."

New Ireland is northeast of Papua-New Guinea. The article proper goes on to describe the ri as an air-breathing mammal with human-like head, arms, genitalia, and upper trunk. The lower trunk is legless and terminates in a pair of lateral fins.

(Wagner, Roy; "The Ri -- Unidentified Aquatic Animals of New Ireland," Cryptozoology, 1:33, 1982.)

Reference. Unrecognized mammals are cataloged in Chapter BMU in Biological Anomalies: Mammals II. Ordering information can be found here.

From Science Frontiers #27, MAY-JUN 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987