The Loch Ness Monster is acryptidthat is reputed to inhabitLoch Nessin theScottish Highlands. The most frequent speculation is that the creature represents a line of long-survivingplesiosaurs. It is similar to other supposedlake monstersin Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next.
Popular interest and belief in the animal has fluctuated since it was brought to the world's attention in 1933.
Evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with minimal and much-disputed photographic material andsonarreadings. The scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster as a modern-day myth, and explains sightings as
a mix ofhoaxesandwishful thinking. Despite this, it remains one of the most famous examples ofcryptozoology. The legendary monster has been affectionately referred to by the nickname Nessie (Scottish Gaelic: Niseag) since the 1950s.
The term "monster" was reportedly applied for the first time to the creature on 2 May 1933 by Alex Campbell, thewater bailiffforLoch Nessand a part-time journalist, in a report in the Inverness Courier. On 4 August 1933, the Courier published as a full news item the claim of a London man, George Spicer, that a
few weeks earlier while motoring around the Loch, he and his wife had seen "the nearest approach to a dragon or pre-historic
animal that I have ever seen in my life", trundling across the road toward the Loch carrying "an animal" in its mouth. Other letters began appearing in the Courier, often anonymously, with claims of land or water sightings, either
on the writer's part or on the parts of family, acquaintances or stories they remembered being told. These stories soon reached the national (and later the international) press, which talked of a "monster fish", "sea
serpent", or "dragon", eventually settling on "Loch Ness Monster". On 6 December 1933 the first purported photograph of the monster, taken by Hugh Gray, was published, and shortly after the creature received official notice when theSecretary of State for Scotlandordered the police to prevent any attacks on it. In 1934, interest was further sparked by what is known asThe Surgeon's Photograph. In the same yearR. T. Gouldpublished a book, the first of many which describe the author's personal investigation and collected record of additional reports pre-dating
the summer of 1933. Other authors have claimed that sightings of the monster go as far back as the 6th century (seen below).
The earliest report of a monster associated with the vicinity of Loch Ness appears in the Life of St. Columba byAdomnán, written in the 7th century. According to Adomnán, writing about a century after the events he described, the Irish monkSaint Columbawas staying in the land of thePictswith his companions when he came across the locals burying a man by theRiver Ness. They explained that the man had been swimming the river when he was attacked by a "water beast" that had mauled
him and dragged him under. They tried to rescue him in a boat, but were able only to drag up his corpse. Hearing this, Columba
stunned the Picts by sending his follower Luigne moccu Min to swim across the river. The beast came after him, but Columba
made thesign of the crossand commanded: "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once." The beast immediately halted as if it had been "pulled back with ropes" and fled in terror, and both Columba's men
and the pagan Picts praised God for the miracle.
Believers in the Loch Ness Monster often point to this story, which notably takes place on the River Ness rather
than the loch itself, as evidence for the creature's existence as early as the 6th century. However, sceptics question the narrative's reliability, noting that water-beast stories were extremely common in medieval
saints' Lives; as such, Adomnán's tale is likely a recycling of a common motif attached to a local landmark. According to the sceptics, Adomnán's story may be independent of the modern Loch Ness Monster legend entirely, only
becoming attached to it in retrospect by believers seeking to bolster their claims. Additionally, in an article for Cryptozoology,A. C. Thomasnotes that even if there were some truth to the story, it could be explained rationally as an encounter with awalrusor similar creature that had swum up the river. R. Binns acknowledges that this account is the most serious of various alleged early sighting of the monster, but argues
that all other claims of monster sightings prior to 1933 are highly dubious and do not prove that there was a tradition of
the monster before this date.
Modern interest in the monster was sparked by the 22 July 1933 sighting, when George Spicer and his wife saw 'a
most extraordinary form of animal' cross the road in front of their car. They described the creature as having a large body (about 4 feet (1 m) high and 25 feet (8 m) long), and long, narrow
neck, slightly thicker than an elephant's trunk and as long as the 10–12-foot (3–4 m) width of the road; the neck
had a number of undulations in it. They saw no limbs, possibly because of a dip in the road obscuring the animal's lower portion. It lurched across the road towards the loch 20 yards (20 m) away, leaving only a trail of broken undergrowth in its
In August 1933 a motorcyclist named Arthur Grant claimed to have nearly hit the creature while approaching Abriachan
on the north-eastern shore, at about 1 am on a moonlit night. Grant claimed that he saw a small head attached to a long neck,
and that the creature saw him and crossed the road back into the loch. Grant said he dismounted and followed it to the loch,
but only saw ripples. However some believe this story was intended as a humorous explanation of a motorcycle accident.
Sporadic land sightings continued until 1963, when film of the creature was shot in the loch from a distance of
4 Kilometers. Because of the distance it was shot at it has been described as poor quality.
Chief Constable William Fraser
In 1938, Inverness Shire Chief Constable William Fraser penned a letter stating that it was beyond doubt the monster
existed. His letter expressed concern regarding a hunting party that had arrived armed with a specially-made harpoon gun and
were determined to catch the monster "dead or alive". He believed his power to protect the monster from the hunters was "very
doubtful". The letter was released by the National Archives of Scotland on 27 April 2010.
C.B. Farrel (1943)
In May 1943, C. B. Farrel of theRoyal Observer Corpswas supposedly distracted from his duties by a Nessie sighting. He claimed to have been about 250 yards (230 m) away
from a large-eyed, 'finned' creature, which had a 20-to-30-foot (6 to 9 m) long body, and a neck that protruded about 4–5
feet (1.2–1.5 m) out of the water.
Sonar contact (1954)
In December 1954 a strange sonar contact was made by the fishing boat Rival III. The vessel's crew observed
sonar readings of a large object keeping pace with the boat at a depth of 480 feet (146 m). It was detected travelling for
half a mile (800 m) in this manner, before contact was lost, but then found again later. Many sonar attempts had been made previously, but most were either inconclusive or negative.
Photographs and films
"Surgeon's Photograph" (1934)
One of the most iconic images of Nessie is known as the "Surgeon's Photograph". Its importance lies in the fact
that it was the first photo and only photographic evidence of a “head and neck” – all the others are humps
or disturbances. Dr. Wilson claimed he was looking at the loch when he saw the monster, so grabbed his camera and snapped five photos.
After the film was developed, only two exposures were clear. The first photo (the more publicised one) shows what was claimed
to be a small head and back. The second one, a blurry image, attracted little publicity because it was difficult to interpret
what was depicted. The image was revealed as a hoax in 1994. Supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a Londongynaecologist, it was published in the Daily Mail on 21 April 1934. Wilson's refusal to have his name associated with the photograph led to it being called "Surgeon's Photograph". The strangely small ripples on the photo fit the size and of circular pattern of small ripples as opposed to large
waves when photographed up close. Analysis of the original uncropped image fostered further doubt. A year before the hoax
was revealed, the makers ofDiscovery Communications's documentary Loch Ness Discovered analysed the uncropped image and found a white object was visible in every
version of the photo, implying it was on the negative. "It seems to be the source of ripples in the water, almost as if the
object was towed by something", the narrator said. "But science cannot rule out it was just a blemish on the negative", he
continued. Additionally, analysis of the full photograph revealed the object to be quite small, only about 60 to 90 cm (2
to 3 ft) long.
In 1979 it was claimed to be a picture of anelephant(see below). Other sceptics in the 1980s argued the photo was that of anotteror a diving bird, but after Christian Spurling's confession most agree it was what Spurling claimed – a toy
submarine with a sculpted head attached. Details of how the photo was accomplished were published in the 1999 book, Nessie – the Surgeon’s Photograph
Exposed. Essentially, it was a toy submarine with a head and neck made ofplastic wood, built by Christian Spurling, the son-in-law of Marmaduke Wetherell, a big game hunter who had been publicly ridiculed
in the Daily Mail, the newspaper that employed him. Spurling claimed that to get revenge, Marmaduke Wetherell committed the hoax, with
the help of Chris Spurling (a sculpture specialist), his son Ian Marmaduke, who bought the material for the fake Nessie, and
Maurice Chambers (an insurance agent), who would call to ask surgeon Robert Kenneth Wilson to offer the pictures to the Daily
Mail. The hoax story is disputed byHenry Bauer, who claims this debunking is evidence of bias, and asks why the perpetrators did not reveal their plot earlier to embarrass
the newspaper. He also claimed that plastic wood did not exist in 1934 (when actually it was a popular DIY and modelling material
in the early 1930s).
Alastair Boyd, one of the researchers who uncovered the hoax, argues the Loch Ness Monster is real, and that although
the famous photo was hoaxed, that does not mean that all the photos, eyewitness reports, and footage of the monster were as
well. He also argues that the hoaxed photo is not a good reason to dismiss eyewitness reports and other evidence.
Taylor film (1938)
In 1938, G.E. Taylor, a South African tourist, filmed something in the loch for three minutes on 16 mm colour film,
which was in the possession ofMaurice Burton. However, Burton refused to show the film to Loch Ness investigators (such asPeter Costelloor the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau). A single frame was published in his book The Elusive Monster; before
he retired.Roy P. Mackal, a biologist and cryptozoologist, declared the frame to be "positive evidence". Later, it was shown also to the National Institute of Oceanography, now known as the National Oceanography Centre,
According to the Swedishnaturalistand author Bengt Sjögren (1980), present day beliefs inlake monsterssuch as Nessie are associated with the old legends ofkelpies. He claims that the accounts of loch monsters have changed over the ages, originally describing creatures with ahorse-like appearance; they claimed that the "kelpie" would come out of the lake and turn into a horse. When a tired traveller
would get on the back of the kelpie, it would gallop into the loch and devour its prey. This myth successfully kept children
away from the loch, as was its purpose. Sjögren concludes that the kelpie legends have developed into current descriptions
of lake-monsters, reflecting modern awareness ofplesiosaurs. In other words, the kelpie offolklorehas been transformed into a more realistic and contemporary notion of the creature. Believers counter that long-dead
witnesses could only compare the creature to that with which they were familiar, and they were not familiar with plesiosaurs.
Specific mention of the kelpie as a water horse in Loch Ness was given in a Scottish newspaper in 1879, and was commemorated in the title of a book Project Water Horse byTim Dinsdale.
The Loch Ness monster phenomenon has seen several attempts to hoax the public, some of which were very successful.
Other hoaxes were revealed rather quickly by the perpetrators, or exposed after diligent research. A few examples are mentioned
In August 1933, Italian journalist Francesco Gasparini submitted what he claims was the first news article on the
Loch Ness monster. In 1959, he confessed to taking a sighting of a "strange fish" and expanding on it by fabricating eye witness
accounts. "I had the inspiration to get hold of the item about the strange fish. The idea of the monster had never dawned
on me, but then I noted that the strange fish would not yield a long article, and I decided to promote the imaginary being
to the rank of monster without further ado."
In the 1930s, a big game hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell went to Loch Ness to look for the Loch Ness Monster.
He claimed to have found some footprints but when the footprints were sent to scientists for analysis, they turned out to
behippopotamusfootprints. A prankster had used a hippopotamus foot umbrella stand to make the footprints.
On 2 July 2003, Gerald McSorely found a fossil supposedly belonging to Nessie when he tripped and fell into the
loch. After examination, it became clear that the fossil wasn't from Loch Ness and that it had been planted there.
Cryptoclidus model which was used in the Channel Five TV programme "Loch Ness Monster: The Ultimate Experiment"
In 2004, a documentary team for television channelFive, using special effects experts from movies, tried to make people believe there was something in the loch. They constructed
an animatronic model of aplesiosaur, and dubbed it "Lucy". Despite setbacks, such as Lucy falling to the bottom of the loch, about 600 sightings were
reported in the places they conducted the hoaxes.
In 2005, two students claimed to have found a huge tooth embedded in the body of a deer on the loch shore. They
publicised the find widely, even setting up a website, but expert analysis soon revealed that the "tooth" was the antler of
amuntjac. The Loch Ness tooth was a publicity stunt to promote a horror novel bySteve Altentitled The Loch.
In 2007, a video purported to show Nessie jumping high into the air showed up on YouTube. This was revealed by
the online amateur sceptic's community eSkeptic to be a viral ad promoting the then-upcoming Sony Pictures film The Water Horse. The release of the film confirmed the eSkeptic analysis: the viral video comprises footage from The Water
Exotic species of large animals
Reconstruction of Nessie as a plesiosaur outside Museum of Nessie
In 1933 the suggestion was made that the monster "bears a striking resemblance to the supposedly extinctplesiosaur", a long-necked aquatic reptile that wentextinctduring theCretaceous–Tertiary extinction event. At the time this was a popular explanation. The following arguments have been put against it:
Plesiosaurs were probably cold-blooded reptiles requiring warm tropical waters, while the average temperature
of Loch Ness is only about 5.5 °C (42 °F). Even if the plesiosaurs were warm-blooded, they would require a food supply beyond that of Loch Ness to
maintain the level of activity necessary for warm-blooded animals.
In October 2006, the New Scientist headlined an article "Why the Loch Ness Monster is no plesiosaur" because Leslie Noč of theSedgwick MuseuminCambridgereported, "The osteology of the neck makes it absolutely certain that the plesiosaur could not lift its head up swan-like
out of the water".
The loch is only about 10,000 years old, dating to the end of the last ice age. Prior to that date, the loch was
frozen solid for about 20,000 years.
If creatures similar to plesiosaurs lived in the waters of the Loch Ness, they would be seen very frequently as
they would have to surface several times a day to breathe.
The National Geographic Society has not discovered ancient giant humans, despite rampant
reports and pictures.
The hoax began with a doctored photo and later found a receptive online audience—thanks
perhaps to the image's unintended religious connotations.
A digitally altered photograph created in 2002 shows a reclining
giant surrounded by a wooden platform—with a shovel-wielding archaeologist thrown in for scale.
"Giant Skeletons" Fuel Web Hoax)
By 2004 the "discovery" was being blogged and emailed all over the world—"Giant
Skeleton Unearthed!"—and it's been enjoying a revival in 2007.
The photo fakery might be obvious to most people.
But the tall tale refuses to lie down even five years later, if a continuing flow of emails to National Geographic News are
any indication. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
The messages come from around the
globe—Portugal, India, El Salvador, Malaysia, Africa, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya. But
they all ask the same question: Is it true?
Perpetuating the Myth
Helping to fuel the story's recent resurgence
are a smattering of media outlets that have reported the find as fact.
An often cited March 2007 article in India's
Hindu Voice monthly, for example, claimed that a National Geographic Society team, in collaboration with the Indian Army,
had dug up a giant human skeleton in India.
"Recent exploration activity in the northern region of India uncovered
a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size," the report read.
The story went on to say the discovery was made
by a "National Geographic Team (India Division) with support from the Indian Army since the area comes under jurisdiction
of the Army." The account added that the team also found tablets with inscriptions that suggest the giant belonged to a
race of superhumans that are mentioned in the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic poem from about 200 B.C.
"They were very tall,
big and very powerful, such that they could put their arms around a tree trunk and uproot it," the report said, repeating
claims that initially appeared in 2004. Voice editor P. Deivamuthu admitted to National Geographic News that his publication
was taken in by the fake reports.
The monthly, which is based in Mumbai (Bombay), published a retraction after readers
alerted Deivamuthu to the hoax, he said.
"We are against spreading lies and canards," Deivamuthu added. "Moreover,
our readers are a highly intellectual class and will not brook any nonsense."
Other blog entries—such as a May
2007 posting on a site called Srini's Weblog—cite a report supposedly published in the Times of India on April 22, 2004.
But a search of that newspaper's archive revealed no such article.
Variations of the giant photo
hoax include alleged discovery of a 60- to 80-foot long (18- to 24-meter) human skeleton in Saudi Arabia. In one popular take,
which likewise first surfaced in 2004, an oil-exploration team is said to have made the find.
Here the skeleton is
held up as evidence of giants mentioned in Islamic, rather than Hindu, scriptures.
Web sites dedicated
to debunking urban legends and "netlore" picked up on the various giant hoaxes soon after they first appeared.
Snopes.com, for example, noted that the skeleton image had been lifted from Worth1000, which hosts photo-manipulation competitions.
"Giants," the skeleton-and-shoveler picture had won third place in a 2002 contest called "Archaeological Anomalies 2."
image's creator—an illustrator from Canada who goes by the screen name IronKite—told National Geographic News
via email that he had had nothing to do with the subsequent hoax.
He added that he wants to remain anonymous because
some forums that debated whether the giant was genuine or not "were turning their entire argument into a religious one." It
was argued, for instance, that the Saudi Arabian find was entirely consistent with the teachings of the Koran.
was about the same time that death threats and cash bounties were being issued against cartoonists and other industry professionals
for doing things like depicting the Prophet Mohammed," IronKite wrote.
How the Image Was Made
with an aerial photo of a mastodon excavation in Hyde Park, New York, in 2000. He then digitally superimposed a human skeleton over the beast's remains.
later addition of a digging man presented the biggest technical challenge.
"If you look, he's holding a yellow-handled
shovel, but there's nothing on the end," IronKite said.
"Originally, the spade end was there. But [it] looked like
it was occupying the exact same space as the skeleton's temple, making the whole thing look fake.
"Now it looks like
he's just holding a stick, and people don't notice. It's funny."
IronKite also altered the color of the man's clothing
to create a "uniform tie-in" with the white-shirted observer peering down from the wooden platform.
The two figures
work to exaggerate the scale of the skeleton, he added.
(Related: "Shark 'Photo of the Year' Is E-Mail Hoax" [March
IronKite said he's tickled that the picture—which took only about an hour and a half to create—has
generated so much Internet attention.
"I laugh myself silly when some guy claims to know someone who was there, or
even goes so far as to claim that he or she was there when they found the skeleton and took the picture," IronKite said.
people seem so desperate to believe in something that they lie to themselves, or exaggerate in order to make their own argument
Wanting to Believe
David Mikkelson of Snopes.com said such hoaxes succeed when they seem to confirm
something people are already inclined to believe, such as a prejudice, political viewpoint, or religious belief.
hoax also needs to be presented "in a framework that has the appearance of credibility," he said in an email.
giant" has both elements, according to Mikkelson.
"It appeals to both a religious and a secular vision of the world
as different and more fantastic than mere science would lead us to believe," he said.
"Proof," Mikkelson added, "comes
in the form of a fairly convincing image."
For anyone who may have knowingly propagated the myth, Mikkelson added,
the motivation "probably wasn't any different than the motivation for engaging in a game of ringing someone's doorbell and
running away—because it's an easy way to have a laugh at someone else's expense."
Alex Boese, "curator" of the
virtual Museum of Hoaxes, said fake giants have a long history going back to the at least the 1700s.
The recent hoax
is reminiscent of the once famous Cardiff Giant myth, involving a ten-foot-tall (three-meter) stone figure dug up in 1869
in Cardiff, New York, Boese said.
Many people believed the figure was a petrified man and claimed he was one of the
giants mentioned in the Bible's Book of Genesis: "There were giants in the Earth in those days."
Likewise, Boese said,
the recent giant hoax "taps into people's desire for mystery and their desire to see concrete confirmation of religious legends."
Geographic News photo editor Sebastian John contributed to this report.
Chupacabra blamed for 300 goat beheadings
Shepherds inMexicoare up in arms -- or heads, as the case may be -- over a rash of beheadings inflicted on their goats, and many people
are blaming the legendary predator known as the chupacabra.
Over the past two months, more than 300 goats owned by
shepherds in Mexico's Puebla state have been decapitated by someone, or something, that hasn't yet been tracked down.
to various reports, Felix Martinez, president of Colonia San Martin, recently stated that nearly 40 goats were killed near
his municipality. Strangely, there was reportedly very little evidence of blood in the area where the goat bodies were found
-- throwing suspicion on an unknown animal or chupacabra.
Dead goats are seen in this photo from Argonmexico.com. The villagers claim the goats were slain
by a chupacabra.
The chupacabra falls into the cryptozoological category of cryptids, a term used to describe animals that haven't
yet been confirmed by science, like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot.
Chupacabra sightings often emanate from the
Southwest U.S.,Puerto Rico, Latin America and Mexico, and the animal is thought to attack livestock, leaving behind puncture wounds after it
drains their blood.