(TMU) — There are few legends more persistent than that of the Loch Ness monster. Though researchers have debunked the notorious photo of a head reminiscent of a dinosaur poking out of the enormous Scottish Highlands lake, true believers continue to assert that some unknown or ancient holdover creature lurks—or once lurked—there.
In what is one of the first major scientific studies of the Loch Ness monster, experts now say that DNA samples collected from the lake do not rule out the possibility that the myth is actually based on reality.
Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago, New Zealand and his team scoured the lake on the research vessel Deepscan, acquiring genetic samples from a plethora of creatures living at three different depths. The samples included things like “skin, scales, feathers, fur, feces” and were analyzed by lab technicians in New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, and France. While there is no definitive proof yet available, the results were “surprising,” according to Gemmell.
The professor, who is an expert in genomics and evolutionary biology, says they were testing two of the main theories of Ness, one of which posits that it is a long-necked plesiosaur that survived from the dinosaur age. Another, less exciting theory is that Ness is just an enormous sturgeon or catfish.
“We’ve tested each one of the main monster hypotheses and three of them we can probably say aren’t right and one of them might be,” Gemmell stated.
This conclusion is certainly far from conclusive and Gemmell admits his team’s scientific analysis has been delayed by attempts to procure a television deal. However, he says the full results will be released in September of 2019.
The research is yet another chapter in the history of Loch Ness, whose mysterious waters are rendered extra dark and mystifying thanks to the surrounding soil—called peat). The massive, deep lake was also once home to none other than Aleister Crowley, the occultist and father of modern black magic, who lived and conducted elaborate rituals in the notoriously creepy Boleskine House overlooking the water.
More superstitious minds have pondered whether Crowley summoned or manifested some demon from another dimension or time which then took up residence in the lake. A more sober reading might be that the Loch Ness myth is yet another example of the human mind projecting its imagination onto the surrounding world. Or perhaps there are elements of both.
However, the new scientific data suggests it’s possible the mythical monster was—or is—a living, breathing entity.
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