Reports that a creature was living in Scotland’s Loch Ness go back to the sixth century. The 19th and 20th centuries, in particular, saw an increase in interest, especially after the infamous “surgeon’s photograph” in 1934.
Now, a new study suggests that the legend of the Loch Ness monster and other long-necked “sea monsters” may have been influenced by something very real and even more terrifying — dinosaurs.
Published in the scientific journal Earth Sciences History, the study theorizes that the sea serpent reports of the early 19th century were heavily influenced by early dinosaur fossil discovery.
“Over the last 200 years, there is indeed evidence of a decline in serpentiform sea serpent reports and an increase in the proportion of reports with necks but there is no evidence for an increase in the proportion of mosasaur-like reports,” the study’s abstract reads. “However, witnesses only began to unequivocally compare sea serpents to prehistoric reptiles in the late nineteenth century, some fifty years after the suggestion was first made by naturalists.”