UNITED KINGDOM: A study at the British university shows that the Loch Ness monster can be real after finding that plesiosaurs may have lived in freshwater.
Grainy photos and eyewitness stories throughout the years have hinted that the beast had a long neck and small head akin to a plesiosaur, which has led some Nessie (pet name of the creature) believers to speculate that the Scottish folklore creature may be a prehistoric reptile.
However, debunkers contend that plesiosaurs would not have been able to exist in Loch Ness since they required a saltwater habitat, even if a lineage had persisted into the modern day.
The University of Bath has discovered remains of tiny plesiosaurs in a river system that is now in Morocco’s Sahara Desert and is 100 million years old, indicating they did live in freshwater.
A 4.9-foot (1.5-meter) baby’s arm bone and the teeth of an adult measuring 9.8 feet (3 metres) long are among the remains.
They imply that these animals frequently inhabited watery habitats and subsisted there with fish, frogs, crocodiles, turtles, and the aquatic dinosaur Spinosaurus.
The presence of so many carnivores living side by side in the ancient Moroccan river still astounds co-author Dave Martill, a professor of palaeobiology at the University of Bath. “This was not a place to go swimming,” he added.
Even the plesiosaur teeth exhibit the same severe wear patterns as the Spinosaurus, indicating that they were regular consumers of the same well-defended fish rather than only passing through.
“We don’t really understand why the plesiosaurs are in freshwater,” according to Dr Nick Longrich the paper’s co-corresponding author.
It’s a little debatable, but who’s to say that because we palaeontologists have referred to them as “marine reptiles” all along, they had to dwell in the sea? Many marine lineages migrated into freshwater. A plesiosaur’s first complete skeleton was discovered in Lyme Regis, Dorset, in 1823 by English fossil collector Mary Anning.
The species was termed “near lizard” because it was believed to more closely resemble modern reptiles than the Ichthyosaurus, which had been discovered in the same rock strata only a few years before. It was found to have a small head, a long neck, and four flippers.
It lived from the late Triassic Period into the late Cretaceous Period, from 215 million to 66 million years ago, before going extinct along with the dinosaurs. It swam by flapping its fins in the water, similar to how sea lions do now.
Arthur Grant, a veterinary student, first made its link to the Loch Ness Monster. He claimed to have nearly hit the creature on his motorcycle in January 1934 and described it as a cross between a seal and plesiosaur. He created a drawing that looked like an extinct marine creature.
A few months later, the Daily Mail released a picture shot by gynaecologist Robert Kenneth Wilson that likewise seemed to depict a creature with a long neck and small head going through the water.
A disgruntled former Mail employee enraged that the newspaper had mocked his father-in-law for stating he had uncovered Nessie’s footprints faked the image, which later became known as “the surgeon’s photograph.”
According to a news handout from the University of Bath, the latest discovery demonstrated that the Loch Ness Monster was “on one level, plausible.”
However, the release also noted that the fossil record still indicated that plesiosaurs had perished at the same time as the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago. “Plesiosaurs weren’t confined to the seas. They did inhabit freshwater,” it added.