The Loch Ness monster has been a source of mystery for decades, but scientists say they now may be able to shed some light using DNA research, BBC News reports.
In a study of biodiversity in Loch Ness, researchers extracted DNA from water samples in order to catalogue the different types of plant and animal life. The researchers say that they found no evidence of “monsters,” but they did find something else interesting, according to NBC News.
At a press conference reported on by The Guardian, Neil Gemmell, who led the study, said, “It is possible there are very large eels ... but it depends how big you think ‘large’ is.”
The scientists said they found large amounts of eel DNA in the lake. European eels are among the animals that can be found in Loch Ness, but Gemmell stated that there is a “significant amount” of eel DNA there.
“Our data doesn’t reveal their size,” Gemmell explained, “but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”
The researchers were quick to dismiss other theories about the identity of the Loch Ness monster. Addressing the popular idea that the monster is a dinosaur that somehow survived extinction, Gemmell said, “Is there a plesiosaur in Loch Ness? No. There is absolutely no evidence of any reptilian sequences.”
The myth of the Loch Ness monster goes back centuries, according to the BBC, beginning with the Irish missionary Saint Columba in 565 A.D. The first modern appearance of the monster is dated back to the 1930s, and was reported on by the Inverness Courier.
Since then, there have been a variety of reported “sightings,” as well as hoaxes, associated with the monster. Gary Campbell, who keeps a register of “sightings,” told the BBC that he receives around 10 reports a year of unexplained happenings at Loch Ness.
However, the researchers were confident that, even with their new findings, the mystery of the Loch Ness monster would remain strong.
Gemmell said, “People love a mystery,” and added, “we’ve used science to add another chapter to Loch Ness’ mystique.”