Loch Ness Monster Existence 'Plausible' After Incredible Discovery
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The existence of the Loch Ness Monster may just be 'plausible' after all, a university has concluded following a fascinating discovery.
The mythical Scottish beast has been a part of folklore for centuries, and there have been countless apparent sightings of the mysterious creature.
But of course, very few among us actually think Nessie exists, partly because nobody has even managed to get a good picture of it, partly because the beast would appear to have a long-neck and a small head similar to a plesiosaur - meaning it wouldn't be able to survive in Loch Ness, because it is a saltwater creature.
However, scientists at the University of Bath, the University of Portsmouth in the UK, and Université Hassan II in Morocco have found small plesiosaur fossils in a 100-million year old river system that is now Morocco's Sahara Desert.
The fossils include bones and teeth from three-metre long adults and an arm bone from a 1.5 metre long baby.
They hint that these creatures routinely lived and fed in freshwater, alongside frogs, crocodiles, turtles, fish, and the huge aquatic dinosaur Spinosaurus.
These fossils suggest the plesiosaurs were adapted to tolerate freshwater, possibly even spending their lives there, like today's river dolphins.
Sharing the exciting discovery, the University of Bath stated that it makes the existence of the Loch Ness Monster 'plausible' - but the uni added the rather significant caveat that the fossil record 'suggests that after almost a hundred and fifty million years, the last plesiosaurs finally died out at the same time as the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago'.
So yeah, if you're already en route to Loch Ness with your binoculars, you may want to turn around.
Dr Nick Longrich, corresponding author on the paper, said: "It's scrappy stuff, but isolated bones actually tell us a lot about ancient ecosystems and animals in them. They're so much more common than skeletons, they give you more information to work with.
"The bones and teeth were found scattered and in different localities, not as a skeleton. So each bone and each tooth is a different animal. We have over a dozen animals in this collection."
He added: "We don't really know why the plesiosaurs are in freshwater.
"It's a bit controversial, but who's to say that because we palaeontologists have always called them 'marine reptiles', they had to live in the sea? Lots of marine lineages invaded freshwater."
Co-author Dave Martill, professor of palaeobiology at the University of Bath, added: "What amazes me is that the ancient Moroccan river contained so many carnivores all living alongside each other.
"This was no place to go for a swim."