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empyrean's avatar

Mermaid skeleton

By empyrean
Anterior, lateral, and posterior view of the skeleton of a supposed mermaid which possesses cetacean traits instead of the traditional piscine. This creature is similar in form to the centaur, as the pectoral fins of a dolphin contain humerus, radius, ulna (here mislabeled femur, tibia, fibula), but absent is a second set of ribs. Hebrew script indicates this drawing is either based on another, much older work predating Latin or Arabic anatomy texts, or merely a modern fabrication attempting to imply antiquity or obscurity.

Minor revision 2013-07-01 to widen scapula, create separation at pubis, and widen lateral extensions of caudal vertebrae to better support musculature.
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© 2008 - 2021 empyrean
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I include one chapter on the limits of biological forms, using mythology as a source of inspiration from art. Of you agree, how would you like to be cited? You can contact me at Thanks and congratulations for the awesome drawings!
I just acquired your drawing. Fantastic work. I would love to use it as an illustration in a science book I am writing entitled "The logic of monsters" (will be in spanish, but I'll go for an english version too). It is about the possible and the actual from a scientific perspective. 
MaximWolf's avatar
Why is this in Hebrew? 8D
Empyrean...I'm working on an art book about a sci fi writer from the 1940s who wrote about ancient Mer people (he believed they did exist), and I would love to use this skeletal drawing as an illo for his article. If full credit is given to you, would you be open to such a possibility? You can contact me at, or here. Many thanks! Richard
empyrean's avatar
I received a copy of your book, 'Rokfogo', today.  I appreciate your including my piece in your book!
RobynRose's avatar
hello, your art is being stolen by this blog: fucktonofanatomyreferences.tum…

You can file a DMCA removal here:
empyrean's avatar
Thank you for this information.  I've directed the blog's author to a reduced-size current version of my mermaid anatomy pictures that I would rather them use to share with others and encourage their use as reference.  (That is really the only complaint I have about the few places I've found these specific images elsewhere on the internet; people using very early editions of them which don't include some significant corrections.)
Hessanite's avatar
I think this is awesome, but is it just me, or are the shoulder blades narrower than normal? Human shoulder blades tend to be wider, don't they? Of course, this is supposed to be a mermaid skeleton, but are the narrower shoulder blades supposed to be that narrow?
Beautiful work by the way.
empyrean's avatar
Hmm...too narrow, could be, could be. The lateral extensions on the caudal spine ought to be longer, too, for being major muscle attach-points. And the pelvis could use a bit of tweaking. Pretty low on my to-do list, I'm afraid, though.
Hessanite's avatar
It's still really good.
uglygosling's avatar
Fascinating! I suppose if the tail is mostly muscle ribs in that area are not really needed, and the tail itself may be much more flexible.
RainaStar1015's avatar
That is beautiful.
Oh. My. Goodness.

My inner Biologist just ran around the room squealing at the top of her lungs in excitement!

This is amazing! I love that someone has gone into anatomical detail that is utterly believable!

Its great to see that the tail is an extension of the spine (like a fish) rather than the two legs evolving to become a tail (like a seal). On the note of legs, its fantastic to see the remnants of the legs - like the apes climbed down from the trees into the sea!

rmonroe041's avatar
This is something you DEFINITELY never see!!!
mysticzion's avatar
thATS a frog foot. the tail doesn't branch? lol
beeshopp's avatar
c'est une merveilleuse idee! j'avais moi-meme mes essaies sur les squelettes des sirenes, et je dois dire que celle-ci et meilleure!
Prometheus-Nike's avatar
I have just one question. While they must have some use, what do the feet at the bottom of the pelvis bone do? Are the bones that work a pair of fins?
empyrean's avatar
Yes; the bones extending from the sides of the pelvis are the equivalent of a dolphin's pectoral fins, a feature that many of my drawings of mermaids have. The placement at the pelvis, rather than clavicle and scapula as with dolphins, makes them morphologically a cross between the legs (of a human) and the forelimbs (of a dolphin). These fins have a certain range of motion and maneuverability, and are a major element in allowing the mermaid to finely control her orientation.

(The ridge on the back of the pelvis is the base of a reduced dorsal fin, invaluable in providing increased stability when swimming.)
Prometheus-Nike's avatar
Amazing. Never would have thought to put that sort of feature on a mermaid/mereman. I am guessing then that the joint to the fins would be like a wrist bone, and have the same range of motion . . . I guess with out those fins, it would be hard to stablize yourself with that sort of design
Starfish2o's avatar
Wow this is VERY realistic, although i'm not sure if a spine would be that flexible. Sense you used a spine thing to go down all the way as tha tails spine type thing, I don't know if spine's are that flexible sense Mermaids and Mermen can move there tails at a pretty akward angle but maybe the bones are made of a slightly different matter then actual human bones. But I like the side fins sense some Mermaids and Mermen have it. Very Unique I like it!
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