The Feejee Mermaid

Year: 1842

Con artist: P.T. Barnum

Originally published in: The New York Herald

Now appears in: Monsters of the Sea by Richard Ellis

P.T. Barnum's skillful manipulation (which was in actuality half of a monkey that had been surgically attached to the bottom half of a fish) convinced thousands that this "Feejee Mermaid" was real. It was displayed for "positively one week only!" at a concert hall on Broadway. Years later, Barnum recounted with amusement how he had lured the crowds to see an "ugly, dried-up, black-looking specimen about three feet long . . . that looked like it had died in great agony".