The discovery of fossils in a freshwater river bed suggests that the Loch Ness Monster COULD exist 66 million years ago.

The existence of the Loch Ness monster is “plausible” after fossils showed that small plesiosaurs could have lived in fresh water 100 million years ago, scientists say.

Plesiosaurs, first discovered in 1823 by fossil hunter Mary Anning, were prehistoric reptiles with small heads, long necks, and four long fins.

They inspired the reconstruction of the Loch Ness monster, but were traditionally considered sea creatures.

Now, researchers from the University of Bath and the University of Portsmouth in the UK, as well as Hassan II University in Morocco, have discovered small plesiosaur fossils in a 100-million-year-old river system now in Morocco’s Sahara desert.

The discovery suggests that some species of plesiosaur lived in fresh water, confirming the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.

However, the researchers note that the last plesiosaurs died out at the same time as the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago, so anyone who claims to have spotted the mythical beast is unlikely to have seen a plesiosaur.

Plesiosaurs (right) and spinosaurs (left) may have inhabited freshwater rivers 100 million years ago.

Among the most famous sighting claims of the Loch Ness Monster is a photograph taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson and published in the Daily Mail.  However, the researchers note that the last plesiosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago.

Among the most famous sighting claims of the Loch Ness Monster is a photograph taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson and published in the Daily Mail. However, the researchers note that the last plesiosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago.

ichthyosaurs and plisosaurs

Ichthyosaurs, a large group of fish-like marine reptiles that were most abundant during the Jurassic and disappeared before becoming extinct at the end of the Cretaceous (65 million years ago).

Plesiosaurs were marine reptiles with four fins and unusually long necks. Among the plesiosaurs were the elasmosaurs, which had the longest necks of any plesiosaur.

Dolphins and ichthyosaurs have similar body shapes, adapted to move quickly in water with low drag or drag.

On the other hand, the plesiosaurs that lived side by side with the ichthyosaurs in the Mesozoic era had completely different bodies.

Their huge four flippers, which they used to fly underwater, and the variable length of their necks are unparalleled among modern animals.

Some elasmosaurus had extreme proportions with necks up to 20 feet (6 meters) long, which probably helped them catch fast moving fish.

Fossils from the Late Cretaceous Late Cretaceous in the Kem-Kem Beds of Morocco include bones and teeth from a three-meter (10-foot) adult and a hand bone from a five-foot (5-foot) child.

They hint that these creatures commonly lived and ate in fresh water, along with frogs, crocodiles, turtles, fish, and the huge aquatic dinosaur Spinosaurus.

“The bones and teeth were found scattered and in various places, not in the form of a skeleton. So every bone and every tooth is a different animal,” the doctor said. Nick Longrich of the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath.

“It’s a small thing, but individual bones actually tell us a lot about ancient ecosystems and the animals in them. They are much more common than skeletons, they provide more information to work with.”

While the bones provide information about where the animals died, the teeth were lost while they were still alive, so they show where the animals lived.

The teeth are heavily worn, like those of the fish-eating dinosaur Spinosaurus found in the same riverbeds, which means that the plesiosaurs ate the same food – they chipped their teeth on the armored fish that lived in the river.

This hints that they spent a lot of time in the river and were not casual visitors.

While marine animals such as whales and dolphins roam up rivers either in search of food or because they got lost, researchers do not believe this is the case with plesiosaurs due to the large number of fossils found in the river. .

It is more likely that plesiosaurs could tolerate both fresh and salt water, as can some whales such as the beluga whale.

It’s even possible that plesiosaurs were permanent residents of the river, like modern river dolphins, the researchers say.

All fossils of Kem-Kem belong to small animals.  The researchers claim that the largest could have been about 3 meters or 10 feet long.

All fossils of Kem-Kem belong to small animals. The researchers claim that the largest could have been about 3 meters or 10 feet long.

Posterior vertebra of a leptoclaidid plesiosaur.  Large openings for arteries at the bottom are typical of plesiosaurs.

Arm bone of a leptoclaidid plesiosaur, Middle Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Kem Kem deposits of Morocco

Left: posterior vertebra of a leptocleidid plesiosaur. Large openings for arteries at the bottom are typical of plesiosaurs. Right: Leptocleidid plesiosaur arm bone, Middle Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Kem-Kem deposits in Morocco.

The small size of plesiosaurs allowed them to hunt in shallow rivers, and fossils show an extremely rich ichthyofauna.

“It’s a little debatable, but who said that since we paleontologists always called them ‘marine reptiles’, they had to live in the sea?” Dr. Longrich said.

“Many marine ancestors invaded fresh water.”

Plesiosaurs belong to the family Leptocleididae, a family of small plesiosaurs often found in brackish or fresh water elsewhere in England, Africa, and Australia.

Other plesiosaurs, including the long-necked elasmosaurs, have also been found in the brackish or fresh waters of North America and China.

Tooth of a leptoclaid plesiosaur from the Kem-Kem deposits in Morocco.

Tooth of a leptoclaid plesiosaur from the Kem-Kem deposits in Morocco.

Tooth of a leptoclaid plesiosaur from the Kem-Kem deposits in Morocco.

A family of small plesiosaurs often found in brackish or fresh water in England, Africa, and Australia.  Other plesiosaurs, including the long-necked elasmosaurs, have also been found in the brackish or fresh waters of North America and China.

Plesiosaurs belong to the family Leptocleididae, a family of small plesiosaurs often found in brackish or fresh water elsewhere in England, Africa, and Australia. Other plesiosaurs, including the long-necked elasmosaurs, have also been found in the brackish or fresh waters of North America and China.

Plesiosaurs were a diverse and adaptable group, and existed for over 100 million years.

Based on what they have found in Africa – and what other scientists have found elsewhere – the authors suggest that they may have repeatedly invaded freshwater to varying degrees.

The new discovery also expands the diversity of Morocco’s Cretaceous period.

“This is another sensational discovery that adds to the many discoveries we have made at Kem-Kem over the past fifteen years of working in this region of Morocco,” said Sameer Zuhri from Hassan II University in Morocco.

“Kem Kem was a really hot spot with incredible biodiversity during the Cretaceous.”

David Martill of the University of Portsmouth added: “What amazes me is that there were so many predators living next to each other in an ancient Moroccan river. This is not a place to swim.

What is the Loch Ness monster?

Rumors of a strange creature living in the waters of Loch Ness have multiplied for decades, but little evidence has been found to support these claims.

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

That day, Inverness Courier published an article about a local couple who claimed to have seen “a huge animal that rolled and dived to the surface.”

Another famous reported sighting is a photograph taken in 1934 by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson.

Later, one of the members, Chris Spurling, exposed this as a prank, revealing on his deathbed that the photos were staged.

Other sightings A photograph of James Gray taken in 2001 when he and his friend Peter Levings were fishing on the lake, and a blurred photograph of what appears to be a large sea creature taken by his namesake Hugh Gray was published in the Daily Express in 1933.

Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London physician, made perhaps the most famous depiction of the Loch Ness monster.  A photograph of the surgeon was published in the Daily Mail on April 21, 1934.

Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London physician, made perhaps the most famous depiction of the Loch Ness monster. A photograph of the surgeon was published in the Daily Mail on April 21, 1934.

The first reported sighting of the monster was said to have been made in 565 AD by the Irish missionary Saint Columba when he stumbled across the giant beast in the River Ness.

But no one has ever come up with a satisfactory explanation for the sightings – although in 2019 “Nessie expert” Steve Feltham, who spent 24 years observing the lake, said he thought it was actually a giant Welsh catfish that lives in the waters. near the Baltic and Caspian Seas in Europe.

An online registry of over 1,000 sightings of Nessie, created by Mr. Campbell, the man behind the Official Loch Ness Monsters Fan Club, is available at www.lochnesssightings.com.

So what could explain these puzzling observations?

Many of Nessie’s witnesses mentioned large, crocodile-like scutes sitting on the creature’s spine, leading some to speculate that an escaped amphibian was to blame.

Native sturgeon fish can also weigh several hundred pounds and have ribbed backs that almost make them look like reptiles.

Some believe Nessie is a long-necked Elasmosaurus-like plesiosaur that somehow survived when all other dinosaurs were wiped out.

Others say the sightings boil down to Scotch pines dying and falling into the lake before quickly swamping and sinking.

While underwater, botanical chemicals begin to trap tiny air bubbles.

Eventually enough of it gathers to push the log up as the deep pressure begins to change its shape, giving the impression of an animal rising into the air.