The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, as it has been nicknamed, is among the most well-known urban legends of modern times and it is among the greatest points of interest for cryptozoologists – scientists who study animals that have not been proven to exist.
The legend of the Loch Ness Monster has captivated people for generations but now the predator that ruled the seas 170 million years ago has finally been unveiled by scientists half a century after it was discovered.
The fossilised skeleton of the dolphin-like animal – named the Storr Lochs monster – was found on the Isle of Skye in 1966 by a local power station manager. This dinosaur remains were kept in National Museums Scotland‘s storage facility for 50 years but now thanks to cooperation between the museum, the University of Edinburgh and energy company SSE has enabled the fossil to be extracted from the rock, creating a clearer picture of the dinosaur.
After detailed research experts reveal is it reptile around four meter long with a pointed head and hundreds of cone-shaped teeth used to feed on fish and squid. Probably it is the most complete skeleton of a sea-living reptile from the age of the dinosaurs that has ever been found in Scotland.
Palaeontologists hope they would be able to answer the question how ichthyosaurs evolved during the middle Jurassic period.
Dr Steve Brusatte, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “Ichthyosaurs like the Storr Lochs monster ruled the waves while dinosaurs thundered across the land.
“Their bones are exceptionally rare in Scotland, which makes this specimen one of the crown jewels of Scottish fossils.
“It’s all thanks to the keen eye of an amateur collector that this remarkable fossil was ever found in the first place, which goes to show that you don’t need an advanced degree to make huge scientific discoveries.”
Skye is the only part of Scotland where conclusive dinosaur remains from the middle Jurassic period have been found so far. This fact underpins the island’s growing reputation as a palaeontological site of international importance.
Researchers hope this fossil fossil will prove to be a ‘crown jewel’ in Scotland’s Jurassic history.
featured image © painting of Hugo Heikenwaelder