Finding a fossil would confirm the existence of the Loch Ness Monster at some point in time, according to a joint study by England’s Universities of Bath and Portsmouth and Morocco’s Hassan II University published last week.
According to the study, the researchers reported the existence of an animal reminiscent of mythical creatures from the age of dinosaurs: the plesiosaur. A long-necked marine reptile with small heads that served as inspiration for the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.
While previously believed to be marine animals, the study suggests plesiosaurs may have lived in freshwater.
As for what this means for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, researchers say it’s “plausible” that the creature once existed. However, they say the fossil record also suggests that the last plesiosaurs died out at the same time as the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.
“It’s shoddy stuff, but the isolated bones tell us a lot about ancient ecosystems and the animals within. They’re so much more common than skeletons, they give you more information to work with,” Nick Longrich, a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Bath’s Milner Center for Evolution, said in a statement.
“What amazes me is that the ancient Moroccan river contained so many carnivores all living side by side. It wasn’t a place to swim,” added study co-author David Martill, professor of paleobiology at the University of Portsmouth.