WHAT COULD NESSIE BE?

This eDNA study will be the first to qual­ify if there is an un­ex­pected crea­ture in Loch Ness. Here are the sus­pects of what Nessie might be…

Focus-Science and Technology - - BIOLOGY -

A PLESIOSAUR?

A long-ex­tinct group of aquatic rep­tiles – the ple­siosaurs – have fre­quently been men­tioned in con­nec­tion with Loch Ness, mostly be­cause Nessie is of­ten said to have a long neck, much like a plesiosaur. But the fos­sil record gives no in­di­ca­tion that ple­siosaurs have sur­vived any more re­cently than 66 mil­lion years ago.

A GI­ANT EEL?

Sev­eral mon­ster ex­perts have pro­posed that Nessie might be an eel that has grown to a size about 10 times big­ger than the norm for its species, per­haps be­cause it has been liv­ing there for decades or cen­turies. There are no good in­di­ca­tions, how­ever, that eels re­ally can keep grow­ing in this way.

A STUR­GEON?

Stur­geons are slow-mov­ing, bot­tom­feed­ing fish that have a row of ar­mour plates along the spine, a pointed nose and a sucker-like mouth. They can be up to seven me­tres long, and are known to move in and out of lakes and rivers ac­cord­ing to the sea­son. Stur­geons could ex­plain some Nessie re­ports.

SOME FLOAT­ING VEG­E­TA­TION?

Bi­ol­o­gist Dr Denys Tucker ar­gued that rot­ting masses of veg­e­ta­tion might burst to the loch’s sur­face and then be pro­pelled along at speed by the gases of de­com­po­si­tion. Sight­ings of such events, he ar­gued, might ex­plain mon­ster re­ports. How­ever, scarcely any mon­ster re­ports de­scribe ob­jects that match his idea.

WEIRD SEIS­MIC AC­TIV­ITY?

Loch Ness is lo­cated within a ge­o­log­i­cal fault known as the Great Glen, and cer­tain sec­tions of it are still seis­mi­cally ac­tive. Per­haps mi­nor earth tremors are re­spon­si­ble for weird shapes in the water and re­leases of bub­bles that wit­nesses have in­ter­preted as sight­ings of mon­sters.

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