Loch Ness monster: DNA analysis brings new theory to light
The mystery creatures behind the thousand sightings of the fabled Loch Ness Monster may be giant eels, a group of scientists said.
The legend of the giant sea monster has persisted throughout the decades, with some theorising that the creature could be a Jurassic-era reptile, a huge fish, circus elephants, or dinosaurs suspected of surviving extinction such as plesiosaur or elasmosaurus.
Following an analysis of 250 water samples from Loch Ness in Scotland, a team of environmental DNA experts found no evidence for prehistoric reptiles, otters, seals, sharks, catifsh or huge fish such as sturgeons.
However, they discovered a lot of genetic material from eels.
“Is there a plesiosaur in Loch Ness? No. There is absolutely no evidence of any reptilian sequences,” said Professor Neil Gemmell, a geneticist from University of Otago and the study’s leader.
“So I think we can be fairly sure that there is probably not a giant scaly reptile swimming around in Loch Ness.”
Gemmell said the “very significant amount” of eel DNA suggests that the ray-finned fish might be the creature people have been seeing.
“The sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness. Therefore we can’t discount the possibility that what people see and believe is the Loch Ness Monster might be a giant eel.”
The Loch Ness Monster has continued to remain as Scotland’s most enduring myths.
The most famous picture of Nessie, taken by British surgeon Robert Wilson in 1934, was later revealed to be a hoax that used a wood putty model on a toy submarine. However, that does not stop people from attempting to track down the beast in the years since.
Steve Feltham, the world record holder for the longest continuous Loch Ness Monster vigil, said he is not convinced the researchers have identified the monster.
“A 12-year-old boy could tell you there are eels in Loch Ness,” he told BBC. “I caught eels in the loch when I was a 12-year-old boy.”