Friday, August 22, 2014

In Search of... The Loch Ness Monster

The Loch Ness monster, or "Nessie" as it is often referred to, may be the most well known cryptid in the world. From the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster in 565 AD when missionary Saint Columba encountered the mysterious creature as he crossed the loch, people have been drawn to this strange land.Before we delve into the creature lets explore his dominion. Loch Ness is the largest lake in Great Britain, being 23 miles long, one mile wide, and almost 900 feet deep in places. It is so immense that it is estimated that every person on the planet earth could fit inside. The loch lies in one of the most stunning regions of Scotland, surrounded by lush green hills on all sides.

There have been scattered sightings of the creature throughout recorded history ever since Saint Columba's encounter, yet it was until the early 1900's that sighting reports took off. The Loch set secluded and undisturbed until the first roads were constructed in the 1930's, little did the builders know that these roads would open a pathway to the unknown.

Thousands of people have reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster over the years, with most having the same rough description of the fiend. The creature is estimated to have a body around 30 feet long, with the height of the head and neck above the water being approximately 6 feet, and grey skin.

These people come from all backgrounds. There are gypsies, clergymen, researcher, tourists, and game wardens (water bailiffs in Europe), so the sightings do have some credibility behind them.

Incredibly, these sightings are not isolated to the inside the dark waters of the Loch, a fact that differentiates "Nessie" from many other lake monsters. Mr. and Mrs. George Spicer may have been the first to people to witness "Nessie" on the shores of the Loch in 1933. They were driving alongside the loch when Mrs. Spicer pointed out something crossing the road. It was a large-bodied creature with a long neck creeping across the road. They initially reported that the creature was roughly 6-feet long; it was not until later that they remembered that the creature was wider then the road, which made it, close to 30 feet long.

As in the case with Saint Columba on the waters of the Loch, the Spicer's were not the last to have an encounter with the creature on land.

Early in 2005 two American university students came across the remains of a 200-pound Highland red deer carcass, found in a boat-only accessible area known to local fishermen as a "Kill Zone." While looking at the deer carcass, the students discovered a strange shed animal tooth that was wedged between the deer's exposed ribcage. The tooth is barbed, well rooted, and measured nearly four inches in length.

Unfortunately, the water bailiffs prior to further identification supposedly confiscated the tooth. All that exists now is a small photograph of the tooth.

The photograph of the tooth was the last of many pictures of the strange inhabitant of the Loch. Contrary to popular beliefs the first known photograph of the monster was not taken by Robert K. Wilson, a local man named Hugh Gray as he was walking home from church took it.

Mr. Gray saw a disturbance in the water and took four photographs; three of which did not come out, but the fourth shows an unusual shape in the water, on the left side of which may be a tail or a flipper.

The validity of Mr. Wilson's photograph, which is often referred to as the "Surgeon's Photograph" by researchers, has been called into question due to a deathbed confession by Christian Spurling claiming the picture was a hoax. Although many experts are not convinced, it is a hoax (just like the Patterson footage in Bigfoot studies).

By studying these photographs, researchers claim that the angle was wrong for a one-foot high model out 100 feet in the water, but is more likely four-feet high and 400 feet out like the original account goes. The neck is also in a different position as well in the second photograph, which would not be the case if the fraud were manmade.

The best photographs of the monster may have been taken during the 1975 expedition at Loch Ness, led by Robert H. Rines. Two photographs show what looks like a flipper, perhaps 6 feet in length. Skeptics often dispel these photographs as well because they were not developed until months after the expedition.

Even though many of the photographs that exist resemble the description of the creature reported in eyewitness accounts, it is impossible to base a sound judgment on the existence of the monster on their weight alone. With known hoaxers, out there evidence that is more solid is still needed to make a firm evaluation of the evidence.

There are many theories to what this mysterious creature is. These theories while interesting, all have flaws. The most common theory is that the elusive creature is a prehistoric descendent of the dinosaurs, a plesiosaur. While this may be the most popular theory, many other equally plausible theories exist.

The Plesiosaur

Plesiosaur is actually a broad term for marine reptiles with long necks and flippers. Unfortunately, if it is a plesiosaur inhabiting the Loch, no one knows exactly what type the Loch Ness Monster is. The elasmosaur was the biggest and longest of the plesiosaurs and is the most likely candidate.

This theory has one huge flaw. The plesiosaur was supposed to have died out almost 70 million years ago. Even though scientists and researchers, who claim that, can challenge that, the meteorite theory cannot totally prove the destruction of this species. Being a sea dwelling animal, they would have had unlimited space to survive in and an unending food supply. If the Coelacanth survived extinction, could the same be true for a plesiosaur.

The Zeuglodon

The Zeuglodon, or the Basilosaurus, is another likely candidate for the Loch Ness Monster. It is a long, slender whale, which supposedly died out generations ago. Researchers argue that he monster of Okanogan, referred to as Ogopogo, has these same characteristics that could mean that the Zeuglodon escaped extinction as well.

One major flaw to this theory is that the Zeuglodon may be too large, often growing to over 70 feet in length. The largest reported sighting of the Loch Ness monster does not exceed 50 feet.

Undiscovered Species

Now back to the tooth that the two students on holiday discovered. Loch Ness investigator William McDonald claims that the tooth proves that all of the theories that exist are wrong. The Loch Ness Monster is not a plesiosaur or prehistoric reptile descendent, but a real, predatory species of water animal possessing the ability to hunt on land that remains unclassified.


Like many other researchers, I am not totally convinced of the existence of "Nessie." As technology improves and more research is conducted, information that is more reliable may come to light.

The plesiosaur theory may be the most popular, and its existence would turn the scientific world upside down, but it is not the most likely explanation. I will agree with Mr. McDonald. The Loch Ness Monster if it exists is most likely an undiscovered unclassified animal.

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