May 23, 2018 I Paul Seaburn

Researchers to Hunt for Monster DNA in Loch Ness

Just as another strange video surfaces of something that looks like it’s surfacing in Loch Ness, a group of New Zealand scientists announced an expedition to said loch to test the waters for genetic signs of the monster. Aren’t there any cryptid creatures in New Zealand to study?

"Whenever a creature moves through its environment, it leaves behind tiny fragments of DNA from skin, scales, feathers, fur, faeces and urine. This DNA can be captured, sequenced and then used to identify that creature by comparing the sequence obtained to large databases of known genetic sequences from 100,000s of different organisms – if an exact match can't be found we can generally figure out where on the tree of life that sequence fits."

That’s the plan, reported by the Otago Daily Times, according to Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago, who is leading the expedition of environmental DNA researchers from the UK, Denmark, USA, Australia and France to Scotland to hunt for Nessie’s number 2, as well as other signs of monster dander in the waters of Loch Ness. Gremmell told that he tweeted the idea about two years ago and it snowballed into a real project funded by Otaga University, sponsors, donations and free time offered by scientists hoping to see Nessie … like Laria Annand did this week.

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Fishing for DNA in Loch Ness near the castle?

Eight-year-old Laria spotted something in the loch and her grandmother Maria recorded it on her cellphone and sent it to the Daily Record.

"It was weird. Really strange. I can’t explain it so the only thing I can think is we have seen the Loch Ness Monster."

Perhaps the research team should contact them and start at the spot where they saw what can best be described as a strange reflection. Speaking of strange reflections, Gremmell claimed that there’s actually a scientific basis for his DNA search for a mythical monster, which he says he’d be surprised if he found.

"I suspect we will find no monsters, but will have a lot of fun explaining the process as we go along … While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness – the UK's largest freshwater body."

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Pacific pink salmon have been found a long way from home in Loch Ness (Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife)

Those organisms include both new species, like bacteria, and invasive species, like the Pacific pink salmon which are being caught there. Gremmell says it will also be an exercise in showing how science can be applied to a paranormal investigation.

"We have the opportunity through this project to demonstrate the scientific process: How hypotheses are established and tested, the need to replicate, use controls and account for observer bias using double-blind methodologies. These are all important parts of this story."

As important as finding Nessie’s number 2? We’ll find out when the expedition takes place next month.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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