The Cryptid Zoo: Mirapinna and other Hairy Fish

Myths about hairy fish are found in many places, including Canada, where tall tales about hairy trout are commonly part of lumberjack folklore. When investigated, hairy fish generally seem to be jokes, but there are some hairy fish that have provoked serious debates and investigation in the field of cryptozoology.

People from the Azores Islands have reported a hairy fish with enlongated wing-like fins, called the mirapinna or Azores hairy fish. These reports were proved true in 1956, when the first specimens were presented to science. Like the bristles found in insects, the "hair" on this tiny fish was not true hair. Instead, it was a bunch of hair-like organs that secreted a substance to deter predators.

Another example of a hairy fish is the anfish of Iraq, said to live in swamps near where the Tigris River flows into the sea. Some researchers think it is really a new species of seal.

Scandinavian lore about hairy fish attributed a supernatural origin to the creatures. Supposedly, some diabolical agency would steal away all the fish in certain years, replacing them with hairy fish which were useless to humans, because they were inedible. Without actual bodies of such fish, it is hard to say what might be the basis for such a legend. The most popular explanation is that the inedible hairy fish were actually diseased, growing some kind of moss-like fungus from their bodies. Only a few researchers think that these legends could have been based on a rare migratory species of poisonous hairy fish.

In a similar vein, there are worldwide reports of hairy reptiles, mainly snakes and lizards. One example is the Howler Monkey Snake, which seems more likely to be an elongated mammal than a snake. Some of the reports of hairy lizards, especially those from extremely isolated areas where living fossils have a chance of surviving, could possibly represent primitive survivals, namely any of the evolutionary links between mammals and reptiles or any of the early reptile-like egg-laying mammals. If such creatures were alive today, they might resemble hairy lizards.

You can find out more about the Mirapinna and/or other Hairy Fish from the following sources:

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 24, 156, 476
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Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003. Page 132

Wikipedia, The. Fur-bearing Trout

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