Elephant theory in Nessie search [BBC 2006-03-06]
Elephant theory in Nessie search
[Photo] Unexplained Nessie sightings could have been elephants swimming
Unexplained sightings of the Loch Ness monster could have been elephants enjoying a swim, a scientist has said.
Neil Clark, curator of palaeontology at Glasgow University's Hunterian Museum, spent two years researching Nessie.
He said they could have been circus elephants, as fairs visiting Inverness would often stop on the banks of Loch Ness to give the animals a rest.
The trunk and humps in the water would bear similarities to some of the most famous Nessie photographs.
There have been reported sightings of "something" in Loch Ness dating back to the 6th Century and it has grown into one of the world's most enduring myths.
Hazy photographs and eyewitness accounts have sprung up over the past 100 years, without offering conclusive evidence that Nessie exists.
Dr Clark said most sightings of Nessie could be explained by floating logs or waves.
But he is promoting the elephant theory because his research showed circuses were a common occurrence in the area, particularly from the early 1930s.
"The circuses used to take the road up to Inverness and allow their animals to have a rest, swim about in the loch and refresh themselves," he said.
"It's quite possible that the people around Loch Ness saw some of these animals.
"When their elephants were allowed to swim in the loch, only the trunk and two humps could be seen - the first hump being the top of the head and the second being the back of the animal.
"The elephant theory would not explain some of the later sightings. I don't know when the last circus to Inverness was, but I'm presuming there were some after 1933."
Asked whether he believed in the Loch Ness monster, Dr Clark said: "I do believe there is something alive in Loch Ness."
Dr Clark's findings are published in the Open University Geological Society journal this month.