Sunday, October 17, 2010

31 Monsters of October, Day 17: The Loch Ness Monster

Real World Origin:
Folklore (Scottish)

In-Universe Description:
The earliest recorded sighting of a monster near Loch Ness supposedly occurred in the 6th century, although it wasn't written down until the 7th century in the Life of St. Columba. It was described simply as a "water beast" that had begun attacking locals. According to the story, St. Columba was able to restrain the beast by invoking the sign of the cross.

Aside from this story, the legend of the Loch Ness Monster (a.k.a. "Nessie") really got its start in 1933 with several sightings of a large creature. Witnesses claimed that it had a small head mounted on a long neck. Land and lake sightings have been made off and on over the years. There have also been claims that sonar contacts were made with large moving objects (presumably the monster) below the surface of the Loch.

Believers in Nessie have presented several theories of what the creature may be. One of the earliest was that it might be a giant eel. Others have theorized that the monster is a giant amphibian or worm. However, the most popular theory is that the Loch Ness Monster represents a remnant of long-necked aquatic reptiles (specifically plesiosaurs) that somehow survived the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction. Others believe that the monster may simply resemble a plesiosaur due to convergent evolution. A similar monster named "Morag" is claimed to live in Loch Morar, also in Scotland. Sightings of Morag go back as far as 1887.

Nessie has also made a number of appearances in film, TV, and literature.

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