Scotland's fabled Loch Ness Monster might most likely be a giant eel, a study of samples of DNA in the lake's murky waters has found.
Neil Gemmell, a geneticist from the University of Otago in New Zealand, led the study that tried to catalog all living species in the lake by extracting DNA from water samples.
"Eels are very plentiful in the loch system — every single sampling site that we went to pretty much had eels and the sheer volume of it was a bit of a surprise," Gemmell said.
"We can't exclude the possibility that there's a giant eel in Loch Ness, but we don't know whether these samples we've collected are from a giant beast or just an ordinary one — so there's still this element of we just don't know.'"
The study did rule out the possibility that Nessie, the favorite of folklore, is a long-necked ancient reptile called a plesiosaur. The study also rejected speculations that it might be a Greenland shark or a giant sturgeon.
The first written record of a monster relates to the Irish monk St. Columba, who is said to have banished a "water beast" to the depths of the River Ness in the 6th century.
Thousands have tried to photograph or capture the elusive monster since. The most famous picture of Nessie, known as the 1934 "surgeon's photo," shows a head with a long neck emerging from the water. It was later revealed to be a hoax involving a toy submarine outfitted with a sea-serpent head.
More recently, a high-tech marine drone found a monster in the Loch Ness in 2016 — but it turned out to be a Nessie-shaped beast created for the 1970 film "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," which sank nearly 50 years ago.
"People love a mystery. We've used science to add another chapter to Loch Ness' mystique," Gemmell said.