Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
Mermaid skeleton by empyrean 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.
Add a Comment:
MaximWolf Featured By Owner May 6, 2015  Student General Artist
Why is this in Hebrew? 8D
shavermystery Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014
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 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I received a copy of your book, 'Rokfogo', today.  I appreciate your including my piece in your book!
Falken02 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2014
Dianathefox Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014
RobynRose Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014
hello, your art is being stolen by this blog: fucktonofanatomyreferences.tum…

You can file a DMCA removal here:
empyrean Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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.)
BlackSkeletonGirl Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
so cool!Heart Heart Heart 
LadyDragonKat Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013
Hessanite Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
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 Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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 Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's still really good.
uglygosling Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013
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 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That is beautiful.
Utopia87 Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012
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 Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2012
This is something you DEFINITELY never see!!!
mysticzion Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012
thATS a frog foot. the tail doesn't branch? lol
beeshopp Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
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 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
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!
Xena-Michele Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm glad you understand mermaid anatomy. I notice a lot of people try and cram femurs and knee joints into the tail of the mermaid, which would be highly dysfunctional and always looks funny. You however have simply continued the human spine and lengthened it down to the tip of the tail, which is interesting, but I also like it. People that don't put femurs in the tail, I've noticed that they tend to use the form of a general fish spine, and run that down from the pelvis to the fin. Both that version as well as your own I think would work just fine. You did a nice job, my friend. Kudos. :)
DannyelitO Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2011
that impressive
racerabbit Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2011
thats just scary to see the exactness of it and how realistic it looks too
kittylovespenguin Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011
... how in the..
clebervpf Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2011
guy you wont believe me but i made a drawing of a triton with this exact structure two years ago
anerolsevla Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
=D This is what I needed!!!
BabylonSabby Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2011  Student General Artist
Hard to believe that this was dated to ancient times, but it's nifty you said so anyways. You should have done the text by hand and perhaps gave the drawing an aged look using coffee or Photoshop.
sirenabonita Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
very believable :ahoy:

glad to see you kept the pelvic floor intact; need something to hold the guts in and birth babies, no?
Gamemaster999 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
?! what does it say???????/
empyrean Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The text is simply labels in Hebrew of the names of the bones; from top to bottom: skull, cervical vertebrae, clavicle, scapula, sternum, ribs, humerus, thoracic vertebrae, ulna, cervical vertebrae, radius, pelvis, femur, tibia, fibula, caudal vertebrae; from left to right: front, lateral, rear.
psych0path180 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2010
Psyartista9 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2010  Student General Artist
:iconveryexcitedplz:Absolutely splendid! ... I have no idea what the writing says but I get the gist of it and it still doesn't change how awesome it is. I greatly aplaud your fantastical, fantasy concept!
Moot1212 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
YES! Thank you!
honormacdonald Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Absolutely beautifully done.
Charanty Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2010
Wow! I'm seriously lost for words.
You did a really good job!
Anatomy amazes me.
DellHonne Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2010
OMG! this is written in Hebrew!
surprised me lol
but why ? XDDDDD
Zae369 Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010
Nice drawing, very accurate to a human's skeleton. But that's the thing though, it's too like a human's. Other than the elongated spine and the fins in place of legs, it seems poorly adapted otherwise for aquatic life. Or was the cut-and-pasted together look intentional to make it look like something done in the past when they had little information on stuff like this?
AnneMarie1986 Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow,Timothy.Amazing Mermaid anatomy.You really believe that mermaid could have such a skeleton build!?
jumpsl Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Very Well thouhgt out!!
TheWingedShadow Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
You know, I can imagine this creature exist...
A great, working concept.
allison712 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You've been featured! :iconbonklers: [link]
plantman103 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2009
Looks cool!!!
DPRagan Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2009
It's always disturbed me when I see someone stick knees in a mermaid tail, I can see it in live action, but in art not necessary.

That is why I love this pic. :) It shows the bones how they would likely be. :)
TwistedSeason Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2009
This is really something, beyond the norm on this website. Awesome!
le-menestrel Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2009
That's beautiful !
le-menestrel Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2009
That's beautiful !
Chimera-gui Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2008
An excellent skeletal design, but I think the pelvis should be more open to ease birth.
elder3beards Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2010
Silly, it's the male mers that give birth. The females deposit their pearls into his womb.
Add a Comment:
  • Art Print
  • Canvas
  • Photo
500 Purchase Purchased Download Purchase Soon
468 KB ZIP File. Includes JPG
2456474 Mermaid Anatomy (skeleton).jpg
525 KB
Add Your Rating! Thanks for Rating! Change Your Rating


Submitted on
December 1, 2008
Image Size
525 KB


28,928 (6 today)
588 (who?)