Loch Ness monster might be a giant eel, according to scientists | UK News

A giant eel could be behind the sightings of the mythical Loch Ness monster, researchers have said.

Scientists took 250 water samples from the famous site in the Scottish Highlands, and analysed more than 500 million DNA sequences.

Sadly for those who are adamant that the long-rumoured monster is lurking in the depths of Loch Ness, the researchers have ruled out the existence of Jurassic-age reptiles such as plesiosaurs.

Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness, long rumoured to be home to a monster
Image:
Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness, long rumoured to be home to a monster

Other predominant theories that Loch Ness might be a catfish or a shark have also been rejected because no DNA of these species was uncovered.

Experts have said one “plausible theory” has stood out among all others: that the legendary sightings of Nessie could be due to giant eels.

Professor Neil Gemmell, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, told journalists on Thursday that the “sheer volume” of DNA samples found in the study from eels “was a surprise”.

He said it is possible that one or two eels in Loch Ness had grown to an “extreme size” and may have become the subject of the alleged sightings.

The professor explained: “There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness. Our data doesn’t reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”

Mr Gemmell, who led a team of global scientists for the project, also highlighted “a lot of uncertainty” in the research, noting that the number of DNA samples would amount to a thimble taken from a large stretch of water.

He added: “For the people who still want to believe in monsters, there is still a lot of uncertainty in our work.

“The absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence.”

Tourism in the area is reliant on people's fascination with the beast
Image:
Tourism in the area is reliant on people’s fascination with the beast

Most scientists have quashed the Nessie phenomenon over the years – dismissing the belief that the monster might exist as the result of several hoaxes and wrongly identified mundane objects.

One of the most famous images purporting to show the monster came from 1934.

It was allegedly taken by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson but was later exposed as a hoax by Chris Spurling, who revealed on his deathbed that he was involved in the staging of the photo.

During a sonar search of the loch for clues in 2016, Norwegian tech group Kongsberg Maritime uncovered what turned out to be a 9m (30ft) long model of the beast.

It was later confirmed to be a prop made for 1970 film The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Robert Stephens and Christopher Lee.

VisitScotland says the enduring fascination with the creature, which many believe would resemble a dinosaur, is still worth millions to the national economy.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Loch Ness and the nearby village of Drumnadrochit each year – many of them hoping to catch a glimpse of the illustrious monster.

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