A New Zealand scientist is using the latest DNA detection methods to search for the famed Scottish creature. Claimed sightings go back more than 1,500 years.
A New Zealand scientist has traveled to Loch Ness in Scotland with a team to collect water samples from the lake that may give clues as to what creatures are lurking in its waters — including the legendary monster that has allegedly been sighted more than 1,000 times in the past 1,500 years.
"Over 1,000 people claim that they have seen a monster. Maybe there is something extraordinary out there," geneticist Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Professor Gemmell said the water samples he had taken would be assessed for "monster DNA," but admitted that his project was mostly concerned with testing DNA techniques that could be used to glean general information about the natural world.
Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is a research technique that utilizes the organic traces left by living organisms to identify them, giving scientists vital information on whole ecosystems at once.
Read more: Beware of Berlin's Loch Ness
Long history of sightings
The first sighting of a strange creature in Loch Ness, a lake in northern Scotland, is attributed to Saint Columba, who brought Christianity to Scotland in the sixth century.
But the most recent was on March 26 this year by a US couple.
Many people who claim to have seen the creature describe it as a long-necked reptilian being, which has led to theories that Nessie, as the monster has affectionately been named, could be a plesiosaur left over from the age of dinosaurs. The animal is thought otherwise to have been extinct for at least 66 million years.
Other theories say Nessie could be a sturgeon or a Wels catfish, though none have ever been caught in the lake.