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Friday 17 August 2018

Nessie hunt team seek monster DNA

The famous 1934 hoax photo
The famous 1934 hoax photo

An international team of scientists is to trawl Loch Ness for DNA which could prove the existence of the fabled monster.

They will sample the loch for environmental DNA - tiny fragments of DNA from skin, scales, feathers, fur, faeces and urine left behind by a creature.

The material collected can be used to identify the creature by comparing the DNA sequence obtained to databases from hundreds of thousands of organisms.

Professor Neil Gemmell, of Otago University, New Zealand, who heads the team, is keen to stress that the expedition is more than just a monster hunt.

Species

On his university website, he wrote: "While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness."

Prof Gemmell predicts his team will document new species of life, particularly bacteria, and provide important data on the extent of several invasive species seen in the loch recently, such as Pacific pink salmon.

The findings from the project are expected to be presented next January.

The first written record of a monster in Loch Ness relates to the Irish monk St Columba, who is said to have banished a "water beast" in the 6th century.

The most famous picture of Nessie, released in 1934, showed a head on a long neck emerging from the water.

It was revealed 60 years later to have been a hoax that used a sea monster model attached to a toy submarine.

Countless unsuccessful attempts to track down the monster have been made.

In 2003, the BBC funded a search that used sonar beams and satellite tracking.

Two years ago, a marine drone found a monster. But it was a replica which had been used in the 1970 film The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes.

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