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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 17:42 GMT
Mouse fresco 'challenges Mickey'
Mickey Mouse is known worldwide Walt Disney
A 700-year-old fresco bearing an uncanny resemblance to Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse has been discovered in Austria.

The mouse figure was unearthed by an art historian working on the church in the southern village of Malta.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

Click here to see the image of the fresco in full
The figure bears an enormous resemblance to Walt Disney's famous mouse to this 14th Century figure.

It has the same upturned nose and large, rounded ears.

The manager of the local tourism office is claiming that the discovery makes the famous mouse a citizen of Austria.

Depiction

But art historians are not convinced the water-damaged depiction is a mouse at all.

The figure is portrayed kneeling in front of a depiction of St Christopher.

Historians say the creature may in fact be a weasel, which in medieval times was believed to give birth through its ears.

Shopkeepers in the small, conservative town are reported to be preparing for boom times, in the hope Mickey devotees flock to see the fresco.

Art historians are claiming the discovery could mean the end of Disney's copyright on the character.

Disney's Mickey Mouse character was invented in 1928, his first cartoon being Steamboat Willie.

The cartoon character has since become one of the most identifiable characters in the world and the foundation of the Disney empire.

See also:

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