‘Scientists in Great Britain have decided to carry out an experiment that could determine if one of Scotland’s greatest legends is, in fact, a real unknown species of mythical value or just a mere animal that never existed. A global team of scientists plans to explore in depth the icy Loch Ness next month, employing environmental DNA (eDNA) in the experiment that will determine whether Nessy is real or not.
The use of eDNA is a well-known tool among scientists, used to monitor and gain data of sea life across the world, it is also well established which means that in this case, it wouldn’t be a completely experimental incursion, in fact, it could be very efficient.
— Reuters Science News (@ReutersScience) May 24, 2018
How does eDNA work?
The use of eDNA to track down maritime species like unknown sharks or whales has proven to be very successful. Whenever a creature moves through a determined environment, it leaves behind several pieces that could be used as DNA samples. In the case of the sea, creatures usually leave behind sperm, scales, skin or urine.
Team spokesman Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago in New Zealand said about the method: “This DNA can be captured, sequenced and then used to identify that creature by comparing the sequence obtained too large databases of known genetic sequences from hundreds of thousands of different organisms.”
The #lochnesshunters adventure is about to begin! Led by @ProfGemmell, we join an international team from @otago @UniCanberra @hullbiology, @NHM_Denmark @UGrenobleAlpes & @ThinkUHI to investigate what lies beneath the surface of Loch Ness… through #eDNAhttps://t.co/ufinrrImr0 pic.twitter.com/jEqaGA06tQ
— Rivers & Lochs Inst. (@RLI_UHI) May 23, 2018
Records on the Loch Ness monster
The earliest record of the Loch Ness monster dates back to the 6th century when Irish Monk St. Columba is said to have banished a “ Water Beast” to the depths of the river Ness, and ever since then, there have been sightings of Nessy the Loch Ness Monster throughout history.
The most relevant source of any information in the 20th century was the famous picture known as the “surgeon’s photo,” which was taken in 1934. It depicted a long neck emerging out of the water, and it later became a base for other depictions of Nessy. Nonetheless, it was revealed 60 years later that the picture was a hoax that used a sea monster model attached to a toy-scaled submarine.
There have been several failed attempts to track down the monster, and one of the most recent and notable attempts was back in 2003 when the BBC funded an extensive scientific research that employed 600 sonar beams to track the beast.
However, the most recent attempt was made back in 2016 when a high tech marine drone found something of the likes of a monster, but it wasn’t exactly the one it was looking for. The discovery turned out to be a replica used in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”, which sank nearly 50 years ago.