Special for paranormal.about.com
A CRAFTSMAN IN England has posted on his website photos of what he claims to be a mummified fairy located in Derbyshire, England. What is unusual about the photos compared to the usual paranormal images, either of live or of dead cryptids (unknown animals) is that there are many of them, in full color, from multiple angles, with proper resolution, and with enough nearby objects for size comparison. Many images that I have written about on the web in the past, such as those of the Myakka skunk ape, a supposed shunka wara’kin, and the solitary de Loy’s ape photo, are suspect due to their limitations in quality and quantity, so it’s nice to have so many images to work from.
Unfortunately, a detailed examination of the pictures has led me to conclude that these photos are a hoax, but I don’t say that to be negative about the individual who posted them. He is a skilled manufacturer of limited-edition magician’s tricks, who has made an especially excellent model which cannot fail to draw attention to his abilities and his business. Publicity stunts that do not injure anyone but attract significant attention should not be condemned, and a common principle of business can be applied, which is caveat emptor, “Let the buyer beware.”
This principle protects, for example, people who sell on eBay items like “piece of toast with image of the Virgin Mary.” Any intelligent person knows that there is no reason for the Virgin Mary or any religious icon in any faith to become manifest on so mundane an object as a piece of toast, and the resemblance between the texture of the toast and the Holy Madonna is therefore either crafted or a coincidence. Because you have a responsibility under caveat emptor to be an informed buyer, if you pay some sum of money believing you have bought a relic, and then realize after the fact that you bought someone’s used breakfast, it’s your fault for getting fooled.
The first impression one has of the photos is of overwhelming realism. The images show an object less than a foot in length that is texturally and proportionately similar to a human mummy. For scale purposes, the object is first shown next to a police evidence bag and is held in a pair of surgical-gloved human hands, then laid down next to a ruler on a white surface that resembles a piece of flattened-out butcher paper, with a human hand in the third image for scale purposes as well. Two close-ups of the front of the upper torso show a contorted, blackened face or skull as well as detail on the wings. Two close-ups of the back of the upper torso show red hairs clumped up at the wing attachments and wound round the back of the skull. Additional images that follow show pretty much what the first three did with slight variations. Leaf debris on the background surface near the evidence bag adds to the appearance of authenticity.
Making the small size clear is crucial for the claims made for the photos, which are being presented as evidence that fairies were at least at one time real. The mummy must be shown to be small enough to correspond to most readers’ conception of a fairy. Additionally, based on the quality of the photos, I am prepared to affirm that there is no photographic trickery going on, and that the photographs depict an actual object being held by an actual person next to other actual objects in the form of a plastic bag, a ruler, and leaf debris. The issue is not whether the photo is authentic. The issue is what is shown in the photo.
HUMAN-LIKE... AND NOT
Now to the object itself, which, to sum up, looks like a miniature peat bog mummy. Peat bog mummies are found in the northern British Isles and Scandinavia, which is why I researched their appearance for purposes of comparison. The object shows the desiccation of limbs and distortion of form characteristic of peat bog mummies like Huldremose woman. (Images of these are easy to find on the web – I found them at sciencephoto.com.) The object is greenish in hue, which I don’t consider revealing since the specific conditions of mummification, such as minerals present to interact chemically with the skin, might well alter surface color. Ribs can be seen, and the abdomen is collapsed, while the skin has something of a rubbery or hardened look. All these things resemble the condition of a typical peat bog mummy as well. The limbs appear to be either proportionate to human or else slightly longer. It appears that skin has fallen away from one arm and one leg, exposing arm and leg bones. The corpse has no genitalia or anus, in sharp contrast with its otherwise very humanlike form. The written text asserts that there is a navel, suggesting human reproduction despite the lack of genitalia. I don’t see a navel. The head deserves more detailed commentary.
Its head is seen only at an angle, and appears to be shaped like a human skull, with two prominent and glaring exceptions. The exceptions matter because people who believe in fairies – and especially those who claim to have seen them – cleave to the idea of them resembling miniature people. If the fairy mummy doesn’t look like a human mummy in some particular, that should cause believers to doubt the photos. If the mummy looks like something else that could have been used to create a false object, then everyone should be suspicious.