The Loch Ness Monster has been attracting worldwide interest since the strange sighting of a large, long-necked animal in the Scottish Highlands nearly a century ago, but scientists may finally be one step closer to unraveling the mystery.
An incredible myth
Nessie is a folk legend said to inhabit the waters of Loch Ness, Scotland, and has attracted the world’s attention with many inexplicable signs over the years.
The scientific community considers these testimonies as a phenomenon without biological basis, explaining the observations as hoaxes, false beliefs and misidentification of commonplace objects. But Dr. Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago questioned this view after his New Zealand research team extracted genetic samples from different depths throughout the log to determine what lives inside.
A giant eel ?
After a year of study, the team found more than 3000 species in the lake, some so small that they were not identifiable to the naked eye, but there was no sign of a monster. Dr Gemmell said in 2019: “There is a very large amount of eel DNA. We can’t rule out the possibility that what people see and believe to be the Loch Ness monster is a giant eel.”
Divers said they saw eels as big as their legs in the loch, whether or not they’re exaggerating, I don’t know, but it’s possible that there are very big eels in the loch. Whether they’re as big as about four metres, as some of these observations suggest, well, as a geneticist, I think a lot about mutations and natural variation, and if an eel that big would be well outside the normal range, it doesn’t seem impossible that something could grow to such an unusual size”.
Mystery still lurks.
However, Dr. Gemmell also admitted that 20% of the DNA came back as “unidentified”, but said “there’s probably no giant scaled reptile swimming around Loch Ness”.
He added: “We can collect this DNA and get a very precise indication of the species that got rid of this material, and over time you can collect a fairly large amount of information from a litre of water”. But Nessie’s hunters said that a small “unidentified” amount is enough to continue the search. Steve Feltham, who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous lookout on the shores of Loch Ness told The Telegraph in 2019: “I’ll keep looking.”