Is There More Science than Myth to the Legend of Nessie?

    For centuries the mysteries of the Loch Ness monster have confused and baffled humans. From legends to actual sightings, today’s technology is turning the myth into a reality. Some may still think that the creature living in Loch Ness is truly a monster, but as technology advances, so does the opinion of the people.  The possibility of the Loch Ness monster becomes a more realistic possibility.  The Loch Ness Monster, commonly known as Nessie, is not a monster but a creature whose species has been around for centuries.

There has been evidence dating back to the first century A.D. proving that there is a creature living in Loch Ness, something bigger than any known lake animal. Before the Romans came to Scotland in the first century A.D., the lands were occupied by Picts, or painted people. The Romans found many carvings of animals, most of which were identified, but they did find one that wasn’t identified, and today is thought to be a carving of the Loch Ness Monster (Lyons). The animal was unknown to zoologists and was described as a swimming elephant. In A.D. 565 Saint Columba, who introduced Christianity to Scotland, was on his way to see a Pictish king when he saw a large beast about to attack a swimmer, “Columba raised his hand, invoking the name of God and commanding the monster to ‘go back with all speed.’ The beast complied, and the swimmer was saved” (Lyons). Ancient records of such legitimacy cannot be ignored. This leads us to think that whatever is in Loch Ness is a very old species. Also, there are similarities in what is described in today’s modern sightings and the ancient ones above; such as, the size, girth, and color of the beast.

For some time there weren’t many recordings of Nessie sightings, but mothers would often warn their children not to play too close to the waters or they would be lured in by the Loch Ness Monster (Mysterious Creatures 61). The slowly growing list of sightings changed to a faster pace in 1933 when a man and his wife were driving along the north shore of Loch Ness when they saw something on the road walking towards the water, which was what they thought of as the Loch Ness Monster (Dinsdale 1). There was a featured article in the local newspaper. This started a spark, more and more people came to Loch Ness in order to catch a peak for themselves. Although many of the people who came out to find Nessie failed, there have been many sightings of the beast since then. They include sightings from lawyers, priests, scientists, schoolteachers, policemen, fisherman, and even a Nobel Prize winner (Lyons). With the numerous sightings throughout the years, it’s hard to believe that Nessie doesn’t exist. Most people have described Nessie as a dark color or black skinned creature, 20 to 40 feet in length, and with a tail and a long neck. The sizes have always been estimated because no one has actually measured Nessie. With all the sightings from legitimate people, the only thing scientists needed was hard, concrete proof, something better than the amateur photographers had shared with their blurry pictures.

In 1958, four expeditions set out to find evidence to prove there was a creature living in Loch Ness, by BBC, Oxford University, Cambridge University, and the University of Birmingham. They brought equipment to scan underwater using sonar. Nothing conclusive happened, but in each case large, undetected objects were found deep under Loch Ness’ surface. This didn’t satisfy Robert Rines, a lawyer trained in physics.  In the 1970’s, he brought a team of scientists together to search for Nessie. They were “sponsored by the Academy of Applied Science, whose members included many technically skilled people with ties to MIT” (Lyons). Their approach was to combine underwater sonar scanning with underwater photography. In 1975 a large moving object was detected by the sonar and later when the photography was developed it looked as if it were a large aquatic creature with flippers. After that evidence was found, Rines was joined by Harold Edgerton, the MIT scientist who invented the side scan sonar and strobe photography used in the study, and Sir Peter Scott, a naturalist widely respected in Britain. The three men came before the House of Commons in London to present the evidence of Nessie’s existence. There had never been such an incident when the search and discovery of the Loch Ness Monster had been taken so seriously. Although, the skepticism from critics outweighed the evidence and the ideas the men had of Nessie were thrown out.

Sir Peter Scott was the first to come up with the theory that Nessie does exist and is in fact a Plesiosaur. A Plesiosaur was an ancient sea beast, which lived before and during the period of dinosaurs. It is thought to be extinct for 65 million years.  Stories of these types of sea monster can be seen in early English literature such as epic poem “Beowulf.”  The physical features of Nessie have matched up to those of the Plesiosaur; long tail and neck, thicker body, and short legs. Although some say this is not a valid argument, they haven’t looked closely at other similar cases such as that of the Coelacanth. The Coelacanth was a prehistoric fish that was presumed extinct for 65 million years. Yet the Coelacanth was rediscovered in 1938 (Hamlin). This proves that a species can outlast the dinosaurs, and not all life from the prehistoric age has gone extinct. There could be many undiscovered species out there that we don’t know about. For example, the Giant Squid wasn’t discovered until recent years.

Although skepticists will always exist, this doesn’t erase all the concrete evidence there is to support the existence of Nessie. The creature has been around for centuries, with proof for centuries. As G.K. Chesterton said, “‘many a man has been hanged on less evidence than there is for the Loch Ness Monster’” (Lyons). There are many different kinds of people who need different things to satisfy their thoughts and for this, there will never be a day when everyone believes that Nessie exists.