Beast in the Loch

Neil Clark, a painter as well as the curator of paleontology at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, trotted out a somewhat familiar idea in the journal of the Open University Geological Society current to early March 2006. He contends that the Loch Ness monster may have been an elephant.

He pointed out that the serpentine aspects of a noted 1934 silhouette image of Nessie (as well as other 1930s depictions) were similar to the visible portions of the hump and trunk of a swimming Indian elephant.

But why would an elephant be paddling in the cold waters of the Loch? According to CBS News, Clark described how circuses would travel the road to Inverness and allow certain animals to "swim around." Clark noted the number of Nessie sightings that took place right after 1933, when A82, the road on the side of the lake, was finished. And one sighting, by Mr. and Mrs. Spicer, which took place July 22, 1933, detailed a neck that was a bit thicker than an elephant's trunk — which is certainly an interesting comparison in the present context.

Also resonant is that the Pictish beast, which was carved on the standing stones in Scotland in antiquity, is thought by a number of scholars to have been a swimming elephant.

What big secrets are to be nosed out in the Loch?

— Douglas Chapman


National Geographic News,, 3/9/06,, 3/8/06

The Legend of Nessie, the Ultimate Loch Ness Monster Site,

"Searching for Nessie," The Legend of Nessie,

"The Beast of Loch Ness," NOVA Online,

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