We still believe: science says Loch Ness monster is ‘plausible’
Researchers believe that a recently found fossil could back up Scotland’s most famous myth
image Ramon Vloon on Unsplash
words Megan Wallace
If you've ever been to Scotland, you'll know that the country has many myths, a huge amount of which are animal-themed. From the inside joke that haggis is a type of rare Highland animal to the shape-shifting kelpies of Gaelic folklore – or even the fact that the country's national animal is the unicorn – there are lots of weird and wonderful creatures populating the Scottish imagination. The best-known of these is, by far, the Loch Ness Monster.
Rumoured to populate Loch Ness, a loch in the Highlands close to nearby Inverness, Nessie is a prominent figure for the Scottish tourist industry, luring visitors up to the north of Scotland with her watery charms. With reports of the creature dating back to Pictish times, the legend of an ancient, prehistoric water monster has been attached to the area for literally thousands of years. However, there hasn't typically been much reputable evidence that the monster could exist – at least not up until recently.
Published on 21 July, a paper by researchers at the University of Bath suggests that the existence of the Loch Ness Monster may actually be a possibility. This comes after the academics discovered fossils of the plesiosaurs, a type of dinosaur-era water reptile with a long neck, in a river system in the Moroccan desert which dates back 100 million years.
When you describe the plesiosaur, it sounds suspiciously like depictions of the Loch Ness Monster and some fans of the mythical creature have previously held the view that it could be a similar type of prehistoric animal. However, critics of this theory have doubted that plesiosaurs could live in freshwater and maintained that they were strictly adapted for saltwater.
Naysayers, beware! The findings from the University of Bath suggest that the creatures could live in freshwater, bolstering the notion that a similar reptile may have existed in Loch Ness in the past. An official press release discussing the research stated that, in theory, the Loch Ness Monster may therefore have been "plausible" – a big win for Nessie fans out there. That's not to say that the monster currently lives in Loch Ness, but rather that reptiles like her existed in the area many, many years in the past.
Next up, let's get these scientists to track down Big Foot...