The Loch Ness Monster has captured the popular imagination since 1933, when a photo surfaced of the mythical creature, long neck slinking out of the water. The photo has since then been dispelled as a hoax (it turned out, the creature pictured was a toy submarine with a fake snakehead attached), and previous scientific studies have not yielded evidence of the mythical beast.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Now, a team of scientists will investigate the phenomenon anew through DNA sampling of Loch Ness in the Scottish highlands. â€śIâ€™m going into this thinking itâ€™s unlikely there is a monster, but I want to test that hypothesis,â€ť Professor Neil Gemmell, a scientist from New Zealand and a leader of the research team, told The Guardian. What the researchers will certainly find, even if itâ€™s not the legendary monster, is a biodiversity of the freshwater lake.
Whenever an animal moves through its environment, it drops tiny fragments of DNA: whether thatâ€™s skin, scales, feathers, fur or feces and urine. Scientists can then capture and sequence the DNA. When researchers compare the sequences with giant databases of known genetic sequences from hundreds of thousands of organisms around the world, theyâ€™ll be able to identify the organisms in the lake. Scientists will extra DNA from the loch over two weeks, then send samples across labs in Australia, Denmark, France and New Zealand for analysis.
â€śThereâ€™s absolutely no doubt that we will find new stuff, and thatâ€™s very exciting,â€ť Gemmell said. The new species discovered may just be bacteria, or details about invasive species in the loch. But perhaps, the DNA could point towards mysterious larger creature. Adrian Shine, a lead expert from the Loch Ness Project,will join the research team. Shine last described the enduring appeal of the lake monster in 2017. â€śAs the human world shrinks, people tend to look for something bigger than themselves â€“ something frightening, something mysterious or something hidden,â€ť Shine said.