Apr 22, 2015 I Micah Hanks

Google Weighs in on Decades-Old Loch Ness Monster Controversy

On April 21st, Google went gaga for Nessie, the fabled beast said to swim the waters of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.

The featured animation on the search engine giant's front page depicted the monster's iconic humps and long neck as they emerged from the water, making play of the infamous 'toy submarine with a plesiosaur neck attached' that constituted the most famous photo ever said to depict the beast. Beneath the "monster", Google's artists include two goblinesque extraterrestrials, piloting the bizarre submersible.

That aforementioned "Surgeon's Photograph" was first published, of course, in the Daily Mail on April 21 1934. Four decades later, it was revealed to be a hoax; but this did little to prevent monster hunters from promoting it at, perhaps, among the best evidence for the existence of what might be a living dinosaur in the Loch.

Google's celebration of the famous photo's anniversary also coincides with the company's own announcement that they plan to weigh in on the controversial search for the beast. Despite being an animal long thought to be purely the stuff of local legend and, perhaps, fodder for tourism to the otherwise quiet region, Google plans to employ its Street View cameras to assist in the ongoing survey of Loch Ness.

As for whether they may find anything, The Telegraph reports that one picture has already turned up recently, which may soon have Nessie hunters buzzing.

When an image revealing a suspicious-looking object was pointed out to a Google spokesperson, they claimed ignorance on the matter. "We were surprised by this sighting too," they told The Telegraph.

The photograph may not be the best evidence for the creature's existence, and in truth, very little in the way of "good" evidence has ever been offered. A number of films have been made over the years which purport to show an animate object traveling through parts of the Loch; among the most compelling was a film made by monster hunter Tim Dinsdale in 1960, as seen below:


Dinsdale was by no means the only individual to take the matter seriously enough to devote years of research to the matter. Marine Biologist Adrian Shine with the Loch Ness Center has also devoted decades to researching the mystery, and while gravitating toward skepticism on the matter, nonetheless cited a 2007 film made by 55-year-old lab technician Gordon Holmes as being among the best footage he had ever reviewed. The Holmes footage can be seen throughout the news segment featured below:


"It has the appearance of an animal of some sort in Loch Ness," Shine notes. "The issue, of course, is how big is it, and what is it. And I'm afraid that is going to have to await some further assessment. There are a number of creatures in Loch Ness that can give rise to wakes, and they would include otter, seals, and water birds."

In the past, some widely respected academicians have also weighed in on the matter, which, in once infamous case, cost him his notable position at a museum, resulting in a heated legal battle. A newly released file, kept from public viewing for five decades, reveals the full extent of the controversy surrounding the dismissal of Dr Denys Tucker who, in 1959, had been a chief scientist at the Natural History Museum who publicly declared he had solved the Nessie mystery, believing the creature to be a living dinosaur.

The Independent reported last week that the recent recovery of the papers sheds new light on the sordid affair:

The file, obtained by The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that senior officials were deeply concerned at Dr Tucker’s High Court claim for wrongful dismissal and worried that if he won “HMG will never again be able to fire a civil servant, except possibly for sedition or larceny”.... Dr Tucker declared in the mainstream and scientific press that he had witnessed what he believed to be an “unnamed animal” on a visit to Loch Ness. In his opinion, the creature could only be an Elasmosaurus – a sub-species of the long-necked plesiosaurs that swam the oceans 80 million years ago.

Tucker passed away just five years ago while residing in France, and until his death "continued to believe he had been the victim of a conspiracy to push him from office."

Tucker would only be one among the multitudes who, over the years, would claim to see a mystery beast swimming the waters of Loch Ness. As to what the animal, if it exists, might actually be, scientists have offered theories that range from Roy P. Mackal's idea of "long-necked seals," to survivors from the days of the dinosaurs.

More mundane solutions include the notion that large sturgeon swimming within the Loch might be mistaken for being more exotic-looking reptilian creatures.

Despite eyewitness testimony collected for close to a century, and numerous films that show living creatures swimming through the waters of the Loch, no evidence has been offered that conclusively points to any new species that may exist in the Loch. But old stories such as these, it is said, tend to die hard. Whether or not a mystery beast exists in Loch Ness, the search for answers will undoubtedly continue.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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