The Loch Ness Monster is NOT just another giant eel, claims a mathematician

Whether an ancient hoax or an actual prehistoric relative, the Loch Ness Monster has been a subject of fascination for scientists and fantasy enthusiasts alike since 1933.

Now a data analyst has brushed aside one of the most popular theories, after claiming that if Nessie exists, it’s not a giant eel.

Floe Foxon calculated the probability of the existence of a European eel over six meters long in the Scottish loch using catch data.

While this turned out to be “essentially zero,” he admitted that “if it’s real, it could be an eel, but not a very big one.”

A data analyst has put one of the most popular theories about the Loch Ness Monster in check after discovering it wasn't a giant eel.  Pictured: Famous photo of 'Nessie', taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson

A data analyst has put one of the most popular theories about the Loch Ness Monster in check after discovering it wasn’t a giant eel. Pictured: Famous photo of ‘Nessie’, taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson

Length distributions for European eel caught in Loch Ness (left) and graph to show the probability of finding an eel at least as long as L in Loch Ness (right)

Length distributions for European eel caught in Loch Ness (left) and graph to show the probability of finding an eel at least as long as L in Loch Ness (right)

Length distributions for European eel caught in Loch Ness (left) and graph to show the probability of finding an eel at least as long as L in Loch Ness (right)

HOW BIG COULD NESSI BE?

European eel, or Anguilla anguillausually grow between 2.0 and 2.6 feet (60 and 80 cm) tall, but exceptions have been noted.

In his new study, Floe Foxon found that the chance of finding an eel about a foot long is about 1 in 50,000.

The data scientist calculated that there are more than 8,000 eels in Loch Ness at any given time, making finding an eel of this size a “reasonable” chance.

“Some eels may be responsible for alleged sightings of somewhat large animals on the surface of the lake,” he wrote.

‘In a few generations you can expect an eel of one meter in length. However, this is not quite the postulated ‘monster’.’

He determined that the probability of a European eel over six meters long existing is “virtually zero.”

Over the years, experts have argued that Nessie sightings were merely the result of naturally occurring bubbles or a “collective illusion” inspired by dinosaur finds.

Dinosaur fossils found in freshwater bodies similar to Loch Ness and resembling the putative beast suggest it could have lived 66 million years ago.

In 2019, University of Otago Professor Neil Gemmell conducted a comprehensive DNA study of the infamous monster’s home from 250 water samples.

His team looked for tiny genetic remnants left behind by life in Loch Ness, which they used to create a detailed list of all the life that lives in the waters.

They identified 15 different species of fish and 3,000 species of bacteria, but found no evidence of plesiosaurs — a prehistoric marine reptile that has been associated with Nessie.

The researchers also found no evidence of large fish such as sturgeon, catfish and Greenland sharks, but did find a “highly significant amount of eel DNA.”

Professor Gemmell said: ‘Eels are very abundant in Loch Ness, with eel DNA found at virtually every site sampled – there are many.

‘Our data doesn’t show how big they are, but the sheer amount of material means we can’t rule out the possibility of giant eels in Loch Ness.

“So we can’t rule out the possibility that what people see and believe is the Loch Ness Monster could be a giant eel.”

In 2019, Professor Neil Gemmell (pictured) conducted an extensive DNA study of the infamous monster's home from 250 water samples

In 2019, Professor Neil Gemmell (pictured) conducted an extensive DNA study of the infamous monster's home from 250 water samples

His team looked for tiny genetic remnants left behind by life in Loch Ness, which they used to create a detailed list of all the life that lives in its waters.

His team looked for tiny genetic remnants left behind by life in Loch Ness, which they used to create a detailed list of all the life that lives in its waters.

In 2019, Professor Neil Gemmell (pictured) conducted an extensive DNA study of Loch Ness from 250 water samples. His team looked for tiny genetic remnants left behind by life, drawing up a detailed list of all the life that lives in the waters.

European eel, or Anguilla anguilla, (pictured) typically grow to between 60 and 80 cm in length, but exceptions have been noted

European eel, or Anguilla anguilla, (pictured) typically grow to between 60 and 80 cm in length, but exceptions have been noted

European eel, or Anguilla anguilla, (pictured) typically grow to between 60 and 80 cm in length, but exceptions have been noted

THE FIRST NESSION OBSERVATIONS

The first reported sighting of the monster is said to have been made in AD565 by the Irish missionary St. Columba when he encountered a giant beast in the River Ness.

One of the first sightings, believed to have sparked modern Nessie fever, occurred on May 2, 1933.

On this date, the Inverness Courier carried a story about a local couple who claimed to have ‘seen a huge animal roll onto the surface and crash’.

Another famous claimed sighting is a photograph taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson and published in the Daily Mail for £100.

It was later exposed as a hoax by one of the contestants, Chris Spurling, who revealed on his deathbed that the photos were staged.

European eel, or Anguilla anguillausually grow between 2 and 2.6 feet (60 and 80 cm) tall, but exceptions have been noted.

In his new study, Mr. Foxon that there are over 8,000 eels in Loch Ness at any given time.

Based on this figure, the chance of finding an eel about a foot long is about one in 50,000.

But the chance of finding an eel over six meters long is “virtually zero.”

This suggests that if Nessie exists, it’s probably not just another giant eel, Foxon said.

“Some eels may be responsible for alleged sightings of somewhat large animals on the surface of the lake,” he wrote.

‘In a few generations you can expect an eel of one meter in length. However, this is not quite the postulated ‘monster’.’

Mr Foxon, who studied physics at the University of Nottingham but now lives in Pennsylvania, concludes that sightings of the Loch Ness Monster can be explained by ‘wave phenomena’ or ‘the occasional stray mammal’.

The scientist’s calculations were published on bioRxiv as a pre-print yet to be peer-reviewed, along with a similar study on Bigfoot.

Bigfoot, or “sasquatch,” is a hairy, hominid species not yet recognized by science that stands over six feet tall and is said to roam the US and Canada.

A famous sighting of Bigfoot at Bluff Creek was captured by former rodeo rider Roger Patterson in 1967. The footage appeared to show a 7-foot creature covered in dark hair (pictured)

A famous sighting of Bigfoot at Bluff Creek was captured by former rodeo rider Roger Patterson in 1967. The footage appeared to show a 7-foot creature covered in dark hair (pictured)

Maps showing number of sasquatch reports (top) and black bear populations (bottom) in the United States and Canada

Maps showing number of sasquatch reports (top) and black bear populations (bottom) in the United States and Canada

Mr. Foxon used statistical modeling to see if there were correlations between Bigfoot sightings (left) and black bear population size in each state and province of North America. Right: Maps showing number of sasquatch reports (top) and black bear populations (bottom) in the United States and Canada

Sightings have been linked to misidentification of the American black bear, Ursus americanusand Mr. Foxon wanted to test the plausibility of this theory.

He used statistical models to see if there were any correlations between Bigfoot sightings and black bear population size in each state and province of North America.

This showed that one sighting is expected for every 900 bears in a given region, lending weight to the misidentification theory.

“Finally, if Bigfoot is there, it could be a lot of bears,” he wrote.

WAS THE LOCH NESS MONSTER EVER REALLY SPOTTED?

The first reported sighting of the monster is believed to have been made in AD 565 by the Irish missionary St. Columba when he encountered a giant beast in the River Ness.

Since then, more than 1,000 sightings have been recorded.

Many who believe in the Loch Ness Monster think it may be related to plesiosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles.

However, many believe the sightings are hoaxes or real misunderstandings.

One of the most famous claimed sightings is a photograph taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson and published in the Daily Mail.

Dr. Wilson, a leading gynecologist in London, did not want his name associated with the photograph, so it became known as “the Surgeon’s Photograph.”

It was later exposed as a hoax by one of the contestants, Chris Spurling, who revealed on his deathbed that the photos were staged.

Another famous sighting was made in 2001 by photographer James Gray and friend Peter Levings when they were fishing on the Loch

Another famous sighting was made in 2001 by photographer James Gray and friend Peter Levings when they were fishing on the Loch

A famous sighting was made in 2001 by photographer James Gray and friend Peter Levings when they were fishing on the Loch

Other sightings include James Gray’s 2001 photo when he and friend Peter Levings were fishing on the Loch.

But no one has ever come up with a satisfactory explanation for the sightings – although ‘Nessie expert’ Steve Feltham, who has been watching the Loch for 24 years, said he thought it was actually a giant Welsh Catfish, native to waters near the Baltic Sea and Caspian seas in Europe.

An online registry lists over 1,000 total Nessie sightings, made by Mr Campbell, the man behind the official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club and is available at www.lochnesssightings.com.’

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