A study released by researchers at the English University of Bath has revived the possible existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
The findings that a prehistoric plesiosaur could have lived in a freshwater environment, contrary to what was previously believed, led the researchers to state that the so-called “Nessie” is “plausible.”
The existence of a giant sea monster living in Loch Ness in Scotland has fascinated the world for over a century, but despite grainy images and eyewitness accounts over the years, it has largely been dismissed as a myth.
Skeptics have argued that even if a plesiosaur had survived into modern times, it could not have lived in the freshwater of Loch Ness.
The University of Bath now says the discovery of the fossils of tiny plesiosaurs in a 100-million-year-old river system — now located in Morocco’s Sahara Desert — suggests they lived in freshwater.
Plesiosaurs, first found in 1823 by fossil hunter Mary Anning, were prehistoric reptiles with small heads, long necks and four long fins — largely similar to descriptions of the Loch Ness Monster.
The fossils found by the university team include the bones and teeth of a 3-meter-tall adult and an arm bone of a 1.5-meter-long baby.
The researchers suggest these creatures routinely lived and fed in freshwater, alongside frogs, crocodiles, turtles, fish and the aquatic dinosaur Spinosaurus.
“What amazes me is that the ancient Moroccan river had so many carnivores all living side by side,” said study co-author Dave Martill, a professor of paleobiology at the University of Bath.
Markings on the plesiosaur teeth suggest they were native to the river system.
dr. Nick Longrich, the paper’s corresponding author, acknowledged that the findings were “a bit controversial.”
“But who’s to say that because we paleontologists have always called them ‘marine reptiles’, they had to live in the sea? Many marine genera have invaded freshwater,” he said.
The Plesiosaurus swam by flapping its fins in the water, similar to a sea lion, and lived from the late Triassic to the late Cretaceous, about 215 million to 66 million years ago.
Veterinary student Arthur Grant first linked the dinosaur to the Loch Ness Monster in 1934 after claiming to have nearly hit the creature on his motorcycle. He described it as a cross between a seal and a plesiosaur and drew a sketch that resembled the ancient sea creature.
Just a few months later, a photo was published, taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, which also showed a creature with a long neck and a small head to move through the water.
Commonly known as “the surgeon’s photo”, it was later revealed to be a hoax.