mermaids and mermen (merbeings) For centuries sailors have told stories of seeing mermaids and, less commonly, mermen while out to sea. In such stories, these merbeings are said to look like attractive humans from the waist up but to have scale-covered tails instead of legs. Modern cryptozoologists, however, are more interested in stories about merbeasts that seem more beast than human. According to various reports, these creatures range from 3 feet to 6 feet (.9 to 1.8m) in height, have almond- or oval-shaped eyes and threetoed feet, and—like the more beautiful mermaids—communicate through singing rather than speaking, though no one can understand their vocalizations. These beings, however, reportedly differ based on where they live. Seawater varieties of merbeings are often said to have smooth skin and a dorsal fin; freshwater varieties apparently have scaly skin and a row of spikes down the back. Some people say that the creatures have hair like a horse’s mane either in addition to or instead of the fin or spikes. Cryptozoologists hope to someday find evidence that such creatures really exist, noting that other animals, like the giant squid, were believed to be myths until a few specimens finally washed up on a beach. Skeptics, however, say that anyone claiming to have seen a merbeing has actually seen an ordinary sea creature, such as a manatee, which has roughly the same shape as a human. Tricks of the light or other factors, skeptics say, are responsible for such misidentifications. But some believers in merbeings say that these creatures are actually intelligent beings with their own communities located in the deepest and as yet unexplored regions of the sea. A few suggest that they might be the inhabitants of civilizations like Atlantis, which supposedly sank into the sea thousands of years ago.