Scientists to continue search for Loch Ness Monster using eDNA

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 23, 2018

A global team of scientists plans to scour the icy depths of Loch Ness next month using environmental DNA (eDNA) in an experiment that may discover whether Scotland's fabled monster really does, or did, exist.

"I'm going into this thinking it's unlikely there is a monster, but I want to test that hypothesis", Gemmell said.

The team will collect tiny fragments of skin and scales for two weeks in June.

"Maybe there's a biological explanation for some of the stories".

The University of the Highlands and Islands' UHI Rivers and Lochs Institute in Inverness is assisting in the project. 'And that's very exciting.

"While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness - the UK's largest freshwater body", Gemmell said.

The research, which will begin next month, reports Reuters, starts with gathering DNA, sequencing it and then comparing it to sequences of other organisms.

What lives in the Loch Ness?

The experts hope they can put the argument to bed as to whether there is or has ever been a prehistoric beast living in Loch Ness.

The Loch Ness Monster is one of Scotland's oldest and most enduring myths.

The legend of the Loch Ness monster is embedded in Scottish folklore, with the earliest sighting of a "water beast" reported by an Irish monk in 565AD. This DNA could be from a known species that previously hasn't been verified in Loch Ness, such as a giant catfish, or it could be from a mystery animal that has never had its DNA sequenced before - in the latter case, it should still at least be possible to determine the class of animal that it came from.

In tourism terms, there are two exhibitions dedicated to the monster and there is not a tourist shop in the Highlands, and even more widely across Scotland, where a cuddly toy of Nessie can not be found.

Next month, however, a team of worldwide scientists are heading to the spot where perhaps the most famous mythic creature of all supposedly resides - Loch Ness, Scotland - to find out once and for all if there's any truth behind the legend.

In 2014, it was reported that for the first time in nearly 90 years no "confirmed sightings" had been made of the Loch Ness Monster.

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