Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

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Tuesday 16 July 2013


Richard Svensson's excellent demonstration of how a single lake monster can be interpreted in very different ways, based upon conflicting eyewitness accounts (Richard Svensson)

Today, the classic, pre-eminent image indelibly engrained in everyone’s mind when speaking of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster (LNM), is that of a plesiosaur lookalike, complete with long slender neck and tail, small head, and four large diamond-shaped flippers.

Nessie's most popular, plesiosaurian identity (Richard Svensson)

However, this was not always the case. In the past, a great diversity of alternative ideas concerning the likely appearance and identity of Scotland’s cryptozoological megastar existed. Nevertheless, with the exception of just a few (such as a sturgeon, a hypothetical long-necked seal, or various misidentified familiar animals like otters and swimming deer) that still linger tenaciously in the romantic but decidedly plesiosaurian shadow of the general public’s favourite concept for Nessie, these other options have largely been forgotten or discarded.

Peter Costello's book In Search of Lake Monsters espoused a hypothetical long-necked seal identity for Nessie (Peter Costello)

Yet they included some truly extraordinary notions and fascinating sightings, which richly deserve their belated resurrection here, as we examine just a selection of those most curious of LNM identities - identities that may have been, might still be, and surely could never, ever be...could they?


The most familiar cryptozoological identity proffering a furry or hairy mammalian Nessie as opposed to a sleek scaled or scaleless reptilian counterpart is a giant long-necked seal - of the kind first postulated during the 1960s by pioneering cryptozoologist Dr Bernard Heuvelmans for his ‘longneck’ category of sea serpent, and later adopted for lake monsters too by Peter Costello. This identity still receives some attention today. In contrast, a second mammalian cryptid contender has long been consigned to obscurity – a giant long-necked otter. 

Its principal proponent was British zoologist Dr Maurice Burton. Although dismissing most Nessie reports as floating algal mats or misidentified known animals, in his book The Elusive Monster (1961) he considered it possible that a small number of reports genuinely featured an undiscovered lutrine form. And perhaps his most memorable claim was that if a long-necked giant otter did exist, it should not be looked for in the loch but on land instead: “…in the marshes or on islands (e.g. Cherry Island), up the burns and rivers or along the shores of the loch, although it may also be seen occasionally in the water”. 

An otter impersonating Nessie (Dr Karl Shuker)

How ironic it would be if generations of Nessie seekers have been looking for the LNM in entirely the wrong habitat! Intriguingly, an unknown long-necked giant otter-like beast has long been reported from western Ireland, where it is termed the dobhar-chú or master otter.


What was an exceedindly unusual sighting of Nessie, made as it was underwater, took place one day during the 1880s-1890s, when diver Duncan Macdonald was lowered into Loch Ness at Johnnie's Point, close to the loch’s Fort Augustus entrance to the Caledonian Canal. According to modern-day retellings of this incident (but not according to its original published source, an article in Inverness's Northern Chronicle newspaper for 31 January 1934, as I discovered in May 2016 when fellow cryptozoological researcher Richard Muirhead kindly sent me a copy of it - click here for a detailed ShukerNature account of this), not long afterwards he resurfaced, gesticulating wildly to his colleagues to pull him out, and in such a terror-stricken state that it took several days before he was finally able to explain why he had been so scared. These graphic details seem to be melodramatic embellishments added subsequently to the Northern Chronicle article's very matter-of-fact version by person(s) unknown. 

What the original published version of this incident and later retellings of it do agree upon, however, is that while Macdonald had been seeking at a depth of around 10 m the sunken ship that he had been sent down to investigate, he saw a very large, totally unfamiliar creature lying upon a shelf of rock that had been supporting the ship. According to his description, the creature resembled a huge frog, as big as a goat, and it was staring directly at him, albeit not in an aggressive or threatening manner.

Could Nessie be a gigantic salamander?

The concept of Nessie being a gigantic amphibian was revisited most notably almost a century later. This was when, in 1976, veteran cryptozoologist Dr Roy P. Mackal, a Chicago University biochemist by profession, published what remains the most scientific, rigorously objective study of the LNM in book form. 

Entitled The Monsters of Loch Ness, in it Mackal meticulously examined every reasonable zoological identity, and concluded that the most plausible Nessie candidate was a giant newt- or salamander-like amphibian, which in his view would account for 88% of the LNM characteristics on file (as opposed to 56% for a species of seal, 47% for a sea-cow, 69% for a plesiosaur, 78% for a species of eel, and 59% for a mollusc). Yet despite the convincing and thorough nature of his researches, Mackal’s mega-newt theory failed to break the plesiosaur’s limpet-like grip upon the imagination of Nessie seekers and the media at large.


Two of the fishiest Nessie identities – zoologically – feature a couple of very different contenders of the piscean persuasion. Cryptozoologists Paul and Lena Bottriell are most famous for their king cheetah researches, but in 1988 they turned their attention briefly to Nessie, and in an exclusive High Wycombe Star newspaper interview published on 28 October they offered a new identity for this cryptid. 

Based on personal sightings of a school of rays seen while snorkelling off Queensland, Australia, Paul postulated that the LNM may be a very large ray, sporting a series of dorsal fins along its lengthy slender tail (as species such as the electric ray possess), thereby producing the characteristic Nessie humps if protruding through the water surface. He also proposed that its elongate tail could create the familiar ‘head and neck’ Nessie image if lifted up out of the water (rays do lift their tails in warning displays). Although an ingenious, original idea, the notion of a ray’s tail explaining Nessie’s head and neck clashes with LNM eyewitness reports that have claimed the head and neck to be unquestionably sentient, actively observing while above the water surface. 

An underwater moray eel impersonating Nessie's famous 'periscope' head and neck pose at Sea World in San Diego, California, as witnessed by me during a visit there in 2004 (Dr Karl Shuker)

Equally ingenious is the most recent non-plesiosaur identity of note to be aired for Nessie. Expanding upon the longstanding belief of various investigators that extra-large eels may be responsible for at least some LNM reports, in 2003 Richard Freeman of the CFZ suggested that Nessie may well be a gigantic, sterile or eunuch specimen of the common eel Anguilla anguilla – one that did not swim out to sea and spawn but instead stayed in the loch, grew exceptionally long (8-9 m), lived to a much greater age than normal, and was rendered sterile by some presently undetermined factor present in this and other deep, cold, northern lakes. 

I would not be at all surprised to learn that extra-large eels do exist here (indeed, such fishes have been reported by divers in the loch), and they could certainly explain some Nessie sightings of the ‘humps above the water’ variety. However, I cannot reconcile any kind of eel with the oft-reported vertical head-and-neck category of LNM sightings, nor with the land sightings that have described a clearly visible four-limbed, long-necked animal. 

Also, in response to this ‘eunuch eel’ theory, Dr Scott McNaught, Professor of Lake Biology at Central Michigan University, has stated that even if such eels did arise, they would tend to grow thicker rather than longer. Nevertheless, giant eels remain a distinct possibility in relation to some of the world’s more serpentiform lake monsters on record.


Tony ‘Doc’ Shiels is familiar in the fortean community as a wizard, surrealist artist, showman, and cryptozoological enthusiast, with a particular interest in water monsters, and he claims to have photographed several, including the LNM. Moreover, in relation to this latter cryptid he has proposed a highly original zoological identity – an as-yet-hypothetical, extremely modified species of enormous squid, which in 1984 he dubbed the elephant squid Elephanteuthis nnidnidi (a name that needs no explanation for anyone acquainted with Shiels's experiments with psychic automatism). This was because its most distinctive feature is a long flexible prey-capturing structure resembling an elephant’s trunk, which, held above the water surface, would account for Nessie’s ‘head and long neck’ image. Shiels also postulated the presence of inflatable dorsal airsacs for buoyancy purposes, which would explain the many LNM sightings of humps breaking through the loch’s water surface. 

Doc Shiels's sketch of his hypothetical elephant squid (Tony 'Doc' Shiels)

Naturally, however, so dramatically different a species of squid as this would require a very considerable evolutionary deviation from the more generalised squid blueprint, and not just morphologically. Currently, there is not a single scientifically-confirmed species of freshwater squid on record – every squid presently known to exist today is exclusively marine. So for Shiels’s elephant squid to be a reality, it would need to exhibit profound osmoregulatory adaptations to a freshwater lifestyle.


The above words, as sung by circus owner Albert Blossom in the classic 1960s Warner Brothers film musical ‘Doctor Dolittle’ upon first seeing the incredible two-headed pushmi-pullyu, came unbidden, but very aptly, into my head when, after first reading the thoroughly astonishing, one-of-a-kind Nessie sighting claimed by L. McP. Fordyce, I looked at the accompanying artistic reconstruction based upon his own sketch of what he allegedly saw. According to his report (Scots Magazine, June 1990), his extraordinary encounter occurred in 1932 (just a year before Nessie fever filled the headlines worldwide and the term ‘Loch Ness monster’ was coined). 

Driving along a woodland-surrounded stretch of road leading away from the lochside and towards Fort William, he and his fiancée were amazed to see a huge creature come out of the woods on their left and step over the road about 150 m ahead towards the loch. Fordyce described it as having “the gait of an elephant, but looked like a cross between a very large horse and a camel, with a hump on its back and a small head on a long neck…From the rear it looked grey and shaggy. Its long, thin neck gave it the appearance of an elephant with its trunk raised”. He stopped the car, and followed this bizarre animal for a short distance on foot before deciding that it may be safer to abandon his pursuit and go back to his car. 

An artistic representation of Fordyce's extraordinary 'giraffe-camel Nessie' (Scots Magazine, June 1990)

So unlike the typical LNM is this truly weird entity, depicted in Fordyce’s account with long slender legs far removed from the flippers more commonly associated with Nessie, that I swiftly checked that this was not the April issue of the magazine in question, but the article ended with an even stranger note. Fordyce revealed that, as stated in Ronald Binns’s book, The Loch Ness Mystery Solved (1983), in 1771 a Patrick Rose had learnt of a monster seen in Loch Ness that was said to resemble a cross between a horse and a camel. However, this no doubt referred to Nessie’s head and neck (rather than to the entire animal), which have indeed been likened to those of a horse on many occasions. So too have those of water monsters elsewhere, including North America’s Caddy, a sea monster whose head has been compared with that of a camel as well.


One of the most bewildering Nessie sightings was that of Mr and Mrs George Spicer. Driving along the road between Dores and Foyers on 22 July 1933, they spied a very large entity emerging from the bushes onto the road ahead. They described it as “an abomination…a loathsome sight”, with a long neck, but no apparent limbs, later likened to a massive slug or worm-like beast in some accounts, which lurched rapidly across the road and into the bracken separating it from the lochside. 

One Nessie investigator impressed with the prospect of a worm as a suitable explanation was F.W. Holiday. In his book The Great Orm of Loch Ness (1969), he nominated a particularly unusual animal as his favoured Nessie. Namely, a hypothetical giant modern-day descendant of a bizarre prehistoric vermiform creature called Tullimonstrum gregarium, or the Tully monster (after Francis J. Tully, who first brought this fossil species to scientific attention in 1955). 

A representation of Tullimonstrum gregarium (Apokryltaros at en.wikipedia)

What intrigued Holiday about this animal was its unexpectedly Nessie-esque morphology. Unlike more conservative vermiform creatures, Tullimonstrum sported a pair of small anterior flipper-like appendages (though these are now known to have been eye-stalks), a sizeable three-part diamond fin encircling the rear portion of its body, and a very long, slender jaw-containing proboscis superficially resembling an elongate LNM-type neck and head. However, unlike Nessie, which is often claimed to measure around 10 m long, Tullimonstrum was only a few cm long, is known only from Illinois, and became extinct over 300 million years ago – no doubt explaining why this identity never captured the public imagination. Interestingly, in March 2016 a research team featuring Dr Victoria E. McCoy revealed in a Nature paper that Tullimonstrum was actually a vertebrate, possessing a notochord, and was closely related to the lampreys and other agnathans.


As revealed here, several Nessie identities contain more than an element of surprise, but none more so than when the element is an elephant. After all, whatever Nessie may be, she is certainly no pachyderm...is she? Remarkably, in a New Scientist article of 2 August 1979, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History director Dr Dennis Power and Illinois University geography research associate Dr Donald Johnson cited similarities between the controversial Surgeon’s head-and-neck Nessie photograph of 1934 and a frame from a film taken on 15 July 1960 by Admiral R. Kadirgamar of an elephant and her calf swimming from Ostenburg Ridge to Sober Island in Trincomalee Harbour, Sri Lanka, and speculated that perhaps travelling circuses have occasionally released their elephants into Loch Ness to bathe, which might then explain the Surgeon’s photo (an image, incidentally, that in years to come would be famously condemned – but never confirmed!! – as a hoax).

The above-documented frame from Admiral R. Kadirgamar's film of an elephant and her calf swimming off the coast of Sri Lanka in July 1960, yielding a surprisingly Nessie-like outline (Admiral R. Kadirgamar)

And as proof that history, even of the strangest variety, does repeat itself, in 2006 the startling elephant-Nessie scenario unexpectedly returned to the headlines when the very same notion was offered up by palaeontological curator Dr Neil Clark from Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum. An elephant in the loch’s waters, or a camel in its woods? Bring back Tullimonstrum – all is forgiven!


Unlike Nessie’s many investigators, Robert Lawson Cassie was one seeker of Scottish Highland water monsters who never had problems finding them. On the contrary, ever since he began his observations, in June 1934, everywhere he looked near his home village of Achanalt he saw monsters! As revealed in this 77-year-old author’s mesmerising, self-published 2-volume book, The Monsters of Achanalt (1935-36), the local rivers and lochs were - at least as far as he could see – quite literally bursting at the seams with monstrous reptiles, and of gargantuan dimensions. 

Indeed, one such denizen of Loch Achanalt that he dubbed Gabriel was estimated by him to measure approximately 300 m long, which meant it was only 50 m shorter than the loch itself! Moreover, it was, he claimed, just one of countless other, smaller monsters inhabiting this modestly-sized expanse of freshwater, with plenty more in Lochs Cronn, Culon, Garve, and Rosque - even though most of these are no deeper than 10 m. 

Loch Achanalt (Dave Conner/Flickr/Wikipedia)

Nor were Cassie’s sightings confined to the aquatic domain. As soon as he started looking for monsters on land, where he was convinced that they must breed, he was equally successful - even reporting a sighting of two giant reptilian necks outlined against the snowy face close to the summit of Morusig! Not surprisingly, Cassie’s absurd observations and books rarely rate a mention in other cryptozoological publications, and are generally dismissed either as the outpourings of an extreme eccentric or as a tongue-in-cheek hoax.

Why, with such a range of other candidates to consider, does the plesiosaur identity steadfastly remain so popular? It is true that, on the one hand, some of the land sightings of Nessie have described an undeniably plesiosaurianesque entity. On the other hand, however, all manner of scientific objections to the likelihood of a modern-day representative of this officially long-demised lineage of prehistoric aquatic reptile persisting in Loch Ness have been aired over the years. My own belief is that there is no single answer to the mystery of Nessie – instead, I consider it most likely that what we refer to as the LNM is in reality a composite of several different phenomena. 

Be that as it may, what seems to raise the plesiosaur’s profile far above that of any would-be pretender to the Nessie throne is that the notion of some lingering race of antediluvian monster - an erstwhile contemporary of the mighty dinosaurs, no less - lurking reclusively beneath the loch’s dark, mysterious waters conjures forth an incomparably romantic and, equally, chilling scenario that no over-sized newt, emasculated eel, trunk-erecting squid, vermiform wannabe, or even the (very) odd giraffe-necked water camel could ever hope to compete with!

A truly wonderful Nessie-inspired cartoon by Keith Waite that originally appeared in London's Sunday Mirror newspaper on 2 April 1972 but which surely cried out for inclusion in any article dealing with the many different faces of Nessie! (Keith Waite/Sunday Mirror)



  1. I am as skeptical as anyone about monsters. I don't believe in Bigfoot. I don't believe in aliens. I don't believe in a lot of creatures that they say are out there. But for some strange reason, I believe - and I want to believe - in the Loch Ness Monster!

  2. A number of years ago I spoke with Alastair Boyd about the L. McP. Fordyce sighting. I had first read about this sighting myself in the 1990s and I was suspicious of the story. It just did not appear to ring true.
    Alastair told me that he had looked into it and established that the story was a a hoax played by a prankster. If you look up who L. McP. Fordyce really was, you would see that he was a serious officer in the British army not given to fanciful tales like this.

  3. Great article Karl!

    Tullimonstru is from IL? I live in IL and it's a nice state with a rich History, esp. of Zoological and Cryptozoological creatures and many notable people in the field of CZ (authors scientists, researchers, etc) in the field. -Rob

  4. Laurence Clark Crossen16 July 2013 at 19:51

    Great cartoon!

    Before Richard Freeman the main impetus for the eel theory was the discovery of a giant eel larvae six feet long. It turned out they did not grow longer as adults.

    I think that surgeon's, especially in those days, were likely to have tremendous confidence that only yokels believed in water monsters. So it was probably a hoax. And the case for it having been a toy submarine is not necessarily weakened by the anachronistic claim of the use of plastic wood. That could just have been an honest confusion of memory. Otherwise the debunking was done in a very logical and assiduous way.

    The L. McP. Fordyce sighting could have referred to a gait without specifying legs...

    Now that Gary Mangiacopra has relinquished his attempt at a new authoritative account of sea serpent reports, the field is now open...

  5. There is of course the possibility Carl we're not only dealing with a dimorphic species but one that undergoes tadpole like stages in its young on a much larger scale than any extinct larva we currently know of.

  6. I have serious problems with all the main contenders.
    Firstly, a long-necked seal would need to haul out onto land in order to breed, which would make its early discovery pretty well certain. (The same goes for its explanation of the sea serpent.)
    As for a plesiosaur, quite apart from the debate as to whether they were capable of raising their necks in such a manner, they were cold-blooded reptiles, and Loch Ness is a cold lake. Yes, we know that many dinosaurs were warm-blooded, but the plesiosaurs cavorted in warm tropical seas where warm-bloodedness would be unnecessary, and even a disadvantage. Latest evidence suggests that the temperature of the Caribbean in the Cretaceous was 37 degrees C - blood heat. A reptile would reach its required temperature just by being there, but a human being in such water would soon suffer heat stress.
    However, there is one major factor which is fatal to the plesiosaur, seal, otter, and archaeocete theories: they all have to breathe. Think of how often whales are seen during the "whale watching" seasons for that very reason, and compare it to the infrequency of Nessie sightings. Tim Dinsdale calculated that he spent 1000 hours of observation between his first and second sighting. Roy Mackal made the comment that the sonar readings suggested a creature which moved up and down in the middle depths, but seldom came to the surface. If there is a Loch Ness monster, it is neither reptile nor mammal.
    (On the other hand, when we move out to the open ocean, there are many indisputable evidence of "sea serpents" undulating vertically - a diagnostic feature of mammals.

  7. When I was eleven I went out on the loch in a dingy with my dad. After a while there was a undulating pushing beneath the dingy. Okay, it was probably just a wash from the nearby shore, but I was eleven, so it was the monster. I love the loch. It's a magical place. But I haven't been seriously convinced by the monster since I was a kid.

  8. I've always been of the opinion that Nessie was a sturgeon - why create stories of monster eels, giant salamanders etc, when a more down to earth suggestion would do?

    1. The Cryptokeeper28 July 2013 at 11:14

      Nessie sightings are probably the result of people observing different animals/weather phenomena and imagination taking care of the rest. The sturgeon is the animal most likely responsible for the majority of animal-based sightings of Nessie.

      The answer to your question is that most people will say, "Well, what about the elevated head and neck? How do you explain that?"

      Of course, you can't have a perfect explanation for every sighting without going back and observing the original event yourself. There are simply too many unknown factors.

    2. There is no, nor will there ever be, an explanation of “Nessie.” The name, as Adrian Shine wryly put it, is merely an ad hoc category for anything anyone sees at Loch Ness that they do not recognize or understand. Nessie is a bunch of unrelated things, but more often than not, Nessie is a boat wake. That’s most of sightings right there, the wake of a boat.

    3. I agree entirely that there is no single identity responsible for Nessie, that Nessie is in fact a composite, 'created' by erroneously lumping together all manner of different creatures and phenomena. This happens a lot in cryptozoology (as with sea serpents, British mystery cats, the Nandi bear, thunderbirds, etc), and is why, as yu'll have seen, I make the following statement in my above article: "My own belief is that there is no single answer to the mystery of Nessie – instead, I consider it most likely that what we refer to as the LNM is in reality a composite of several different phenomena."

  9. Mesozoic Australian plesiosaurs lived in the icy Antarctic waters of Gondwanaland. In the South Australian Museum a large room is devoted to the exhibition of a life-sized model and the entire skeleton of an Australian plesiosaur. The exhibit portrays the animal living beneath the frozen ice-covered surface and using gaps between the ice sheets, similar to modern seals. Living today in the Australian Fitzroy River is a recently-discovered freshwater turtle Rheodytes leukops that has a very large cloacal bursae where it takes oxygen from the water & rarely needs to rise to the surface to breath. Perhaps Nessie is a generally inactive bottom-dwelling species that lies in the mud seizing passing fish with its long neck & takes oxygen from the water as the Fitzroy River turtle does. It may only swim towards the surface during brief courtship activity where it is then occasionally observed. Gary Opit.com

  10. An interesting compendium of resources for review and contemplation!

    Has it been previously considered that the 1972 Dr. Robert H. Rines expedition underwater flipper photo in searching Loch Ness possibly be the fin of a giant form of squid rather than a plesiosaur flipper? I have not seen any confirmation documentation discrediting this image, although it may exist.

    Lolliguncula brevis or the Atlantic brief squid is a small fresh water squid known to live in the shallows of the Eastern Seaboard of the Western Atlantic Ocean. Is it possible that a larger yet to be discovered fresh or brackish water species squid, of the Loliginidae Family, lives near or has once lived near the Loch Ness River Inlets?

  11. I'm really intrigued by the salamander theory. Would love to see more discussion of that, and of Jeremy Wade's theory that Nessie may be a Greenland shark.

  12. I will definitely go for the eel theory:

    -No need for reproduction
    -Perhaps sterile eels (hybrids) enter. A small number eventually reaches great size for some unknown reason
    -No air breathing and bottom dweller
    -Diverse food intake
    -Occasional land transportation

    Probably the same kind of eels has given rise to lindorm stories in Scandinavia including water horses etc (horselike head, dorsal mane)

  13. If there is only one Loch Ness Monster, what about St. Columbo's sighting? One animal can't live several thousand years, right? But personally, I have difficulty believing in the Loch Ness Monster. I hope there's something there, and I believe something inspired these sightings, but I think that the Loch Ness Monster as we know it is little more than a fantasy. That said, has anybod here seen The Water Horse?

  14. Hi Karl,

    In the various sources where I've read the Duncan MacDonald story, I've never run across a version that quoted him as saying "at least as big as a goat", or any reference to a size estimate of any kind. Could you tell us where you ran across that version? (My guess will be Gould or White, as those are the two books I can't get my hands on.)

    Many thanks!
    Steve Plambeck

  15. Hi Steve, This blog post is a version of an article of mine published back in 2008, so I'm not sure off the top of my head where I derived all of the info in it from, as I have dozens of books on Nessie and countless articles and papers on the subject too, plus sections re Nessie in numerous other cryptozoology books. So I'll have to go through them as an when I can, to find that for you, though I distinctly remember reading it, as the description conjured up in my mind a weird frog with goat legs LOL. Once I track it down (though it could be quite a time, unless I hit lucky straight away), I'll post details here. I did check Gould and Whyte, and it's not in their books, but like I say, I have plenty more needing checking too. All the best, Karl

  16. Why thanks Karl! It's nothing to dig too deeply for, but if you run across it again while looking for something else it would be nice to know. (It's not in Witchell, Holiday, Mackal, or Dinsdale's books, so no need to dig there -- the "goat" version of the account must come from a less-than-usual suspect). And if I run across it, I'll return and post a reply here.

    The frog-like description was always intriguing -- if that was based solely on the appearance of the head, it could just as well have been a salamander. Would that we could go back a hundred years and re-interview witnesses with questions like, "Did you see a tail?"

    I like to think I wouldn't run in panic from an amphibian if it was "only" goat-size, but then I wasn't in Duncan MacDonald's shoes (or diving suit). Heck, I jump for spiders. What's so interesting is that a goat-sized amphibian would be small enough to possibly represent the juvenile or larval form of an unclassified giant salamander, which if it occurred in Loch Ness of all places would certainly answer many an old question :>


    1. The one duncan saw was a lot bigger than a goat.it was huge.probably 20 feet plus.big enough to eat him.(thus his panic...)

    2. Hi Steve, I've finally found the reference describing as goat-sized the frog-like creature seen by Duncan MacDonald. It features in the first paragraph of p. 123 in the Garnstone Press 1974 hardback edition of Peter Costello's book In Search of Lake Monsters. According to Costello: "It was as big as a goat or a wedder, and just stared at him with neither fear nor ferocity. (This story came from the diver's grand-nephew, Donald Frazer, lock-keeper at Fort Augustus.)"

    3. And the original published report of MacDonald's encounter with this mysterious underwater creature whilst diving appeared in the Northern Chronicle newspaper on 31 January 1934. Hope this helps.

    4. Courtesy of Richard Muirhead, I now have a copy of the 31 January 1934 article from the Northern Chronicle, and it does indeed quote diver Duncan MacDonald as stating that the creature was: "as big as a goat, or a good wedder". (A wedder is, in Scots dialect, a castrated male sheep.) All the best, Karl

  17. Probably A lone, giant long lived marine turtle which somehow ended up trapped in the Loch because of flooding ? and whose neck undulates like a snake in addition to a very wide back acccording to some report, known as Aspidochelone by the ancient Greeks. I suppose it's the same creature than Morgawr or the creature seen by captain Cringle on board ss umfuli. A turtle which has developped toward a plesiosaurian shape due to convergent evolution.

  18. Haven't all sightings of the loch ness monster been shown to be either hoaxes or misidentification of known animals or mundane objects and phenomena?

  19. Not at all. Some have been soundly disproved, but many other claimed refutations are merely theories, not confirmed fact.

  20. I don't see any reason why the common misidentification candidates ( logs, rotting vegetation, otters , ,beavers, moose, freak waves, optical illusions, and mirages) would be unable to explain the sightings which have not been demonstrated to be deliberate deceptions.

  21. Beavers and moose are not native to Scotland, so they wouldn't apply. Some sightings involve clearly animate entities that are not merely passively floating logs or rotting vegetation, and mirages, optical illusions, and freak waves do not emerge onto land, whereas there is a sizeable list of land sightings of Nessie that do not match known species such as otters. Personally, I have no idea what Nessie is or whether there even is such a species, but I consider that within the bulk of eyewitness accounts are some that suggest a living species of unusual form that cannot be satisfactorily explained by the mainstream identities proposed by Nessie critics and sceptics.

  22. Karl,

    Any further on the original source for the diver story at Loch Ness? You mention it happened at "Johnnies Point" which is a few miles up Loch Ness whereas Witchell places it at the entrance to the Caledonian Canal.

  23. Hi guys, I've found my source for the diver story - it was in a reader's letter published on 9th December 1933 issue of the Dundee Courier and Advertiser. 9 December is my birthday, so that should have stuck in my memory, lol.

  24. It doesn't provide all of the details, so I still need to rediscover whatever additional source I originally consulted, but at least it's a beginning.

  25. Why is it hard to believe that Nessie is real? After all, it resembles a water dinosaur and we know dinosaurs existed. Even the Bible in the Book Of Job mentions a water dinosaur called levithian. And that justs blows all theories apart that dinosaurs existed before man. Seems man and dinosaur existed together and may still to this day hence the Lochness monster. Anything is possible with God!

  26. "in 2003 Richard Freeman of the CFZ suggested that Nessie may well be a gigantic, sterile or eunuch specimen of the common eel Anguilla anguilla – one that did not swim out to sea and spawn but instead stayed in the loch, grew exceptionally long (8-9 m), lived to a much greater age than normal.."
    Roy P Mackal was I believe the first to suggest this back in 70s or Eighties in his book The Monsters Of Loch Ness. This was based on his study of the eel populations of the loch and of studies of New Zealand eels.

    1. Mackal didn't suggest a eunuch eel, merely an extra-large version of a normal eel.