Loch Ness is a tectonic lake that lies on the Great Glen Fault Line. Long and narrow, it was gouged deep by receding glaciers. This area is seismically active, which makes searching for any Lake Monster difficult. Add to this difficulty is the deepness of the lake that hinders extensive searches.
The Loch Ness Monster has been long known to the area’s inhabitants. The early Picts had carvings of a strange beast with a long snout and flippers. They told the invading Romans in the First Century CE that this animal was ancient.
The first written account of the Loch Ness Monster comes from the 700CE medieval chronicle of St. Columbia’s life. The history tells of St. Columbia’s efforts to convert the Scots. This Irish monk waded into Loch Ness and changed Nessie from being a man killer to a “shy beastie.” This explains why the Loch Ness Monster is rarely seen by people.
In 1933, the Spicers were driving along the lake when they encountered a strange animal. This long-necked beast waddled from the bushes, across the road, and slid into the loch. Then in 1934, Arthur Grant nearly crashed into the Loch Ness Monster with his motorcycle. Grant said that the animal looked like a cross between a seal and a Plesiosaurus. These reports made “Nessie” famous. In fact, her name (and the assumption the Lake Monster was a female) were immediately coined by the press.
Based on witness testimony and other evidence, Coleman and Huyghe say that Nessie is real. From similar reports of a nearby Lake Monster in Scotland – Maggie of Loch Morar, Nessie is a Waterhorse. In their collection of stories about Lake Monsters in Scotland, the cryptozoologists say that the majority are Waterhorses. They describe the Waterhorse to be an animal with an elongated body and neck with two sets of flippers. At close range, people have also reported a hairy body and a mane. Moreover, the two cryptozoologists noted that the folklore of the North Sea area abounded in descriptions of the Waterhorse.
Although Nessie may look like a Plesiosaurus, an ancient marine reptile, She is probably a mammal since the hair is key. Nessie could be a Zeuglodon, a genus of long, serpent-like fossil whales. The other choice is a long-necked pinniped from the Pliocene, known as the Acrophoca longirostris.
Whatever Nessie is, She has enthralled and frightened humans for more than a millennia. Nessie is an extraordinary enigma who lives just beyond human ken. She reminds humans that there will always be “unknown unknowables.”
Note 1: Cryptozoology is the study of unknown or hidden animals.
Note 2: The “manual of style” adopted by the International Society of Cryptozoology calls for capitalized forms for “Lake Monster,” “Loch Ness Monster,” and “Waterhorse.”