New study casts doubt on Loch Ness Monster plesiosaur theory
January 20, 2022 | 25 comments
A model Nessie found at Drumnadrochit. Image Credit: Immanuel Giel
The famous Scottish loch monster is often said to be a plesiosaur - but just how plausible is that?
The quintessential Loch Ness Monster sighting is typically that of a large, long-necked creature that appears as a head and neck (or a series of humps) protruding from the water.
Over the years this has lead some to speculate that the creature could be a plesiosaur - a type of prehistoric aquatic reptile - as depicted by an oft-photographed model that can be found outside the Loch Ness Exhibition Center at Drumnadrochit on the western shore of the loch.
Casting aside for a moment the fact that plesiosaurs went extinct millions of years ago - is it at all plausible that the Loch Ness Monster could be such a relic from the distant past ?
According to Dr Paul Scofield of Canterbury Museum in New Zealand, a recent study of an elasmosaurus - which is a type of plesiosaur - has indicated that these creatures would have held their heads either at the same level or below the level of their bodies while swimming through the water.
This makes it unlikely that they would have stuck their head vertically up out of the water as often depicted in photographs and drawings of the elusive Loch Ness Monster.
"The labyrinth of the ear works best when the tiny bones within are able to hang unaffected by gravity," said Dr Scofield. "For this reason, the position of the inner ear within the skull of an animal reveals a lot about how an animal habitually holds its head."
"We have examined the inner ear of elasmosaurs and determined that their resting position was with the head horizontal to the body or even well below the body."
"The 'traditional' posture shown in many a popular article on Nessie - like a sock puppet - is not something elasmosaurs were in the habit of adopting."
"The idea of it lifting its head up like a sock puppet is extremely unlikely."
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