Fossil of Loch Ness Monster’s Ancestor Rediscovered In Scottish Museum

Fossils bearing a notable resemblance to the world’s idea of what the Loch Ness Monster looks like have been re-found at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, thanks to Gary Campbell, the president of the Official Loch Ness Fan Club.

The fossils, which originally belonged to writer Hugh Miller and have been in Scotland for over a hundred years, were a part of a collection spotted by Campbell when he was invited to the museum. He immediately noticed the similarities between the fossils and depictions of Nessie, and asked for an investigation to be done.

The investigation began as part of the Inverness Science Festival, where teams from the museum and the festival sought to figure out the origins of the fossils, which were revealed to be that of a Pterichthyoides milleri (dubbed “Pessie”). The Pterichthyoides milleri lived among dinosaurs in the Paleozoic Era (around 542 million and 251 million years ago), most likely at the bottom of the freshwater lakes that would eventually become Loch Ness.

Loch Ness Fossils

The curator of the Inverness Museum, Cait McCullagh, said of the creature in relation to what we know as the Loch Ness Monster, “If you think of the picture that most people have in their heads of the Loch Ness Monster, our fossils pretty much meet what they would expect.” She went on to describe the creature, “Pterichthyoides milleri lived at the bottom of freshwater lochs and had flippers to help it move around. Its head and back were covered in an armoured shell, showing that it was well-protected from predator attacks; ready for anything.”

Dr. Evelyn Grey, an orthopaedic researcher and imaging specialist was a colleague of Cait McCullagh’s, and they worked together to put together “Pessie’s” history. “It became clear that what we have here could be Nessie’s great granny,” Dr. Grey explained when she and McCullagh were part of the Science Festival team, and were tasked with attempting to find any possible scientific explanations for the existence of Nessie.

“It fits all the criteria that people around the world associate with lake monsters, albeit a little smaller than popular images would suggest. However, if we assume that this form of Nessie would evolve in a normal fashion, then we can project how biological changes over the millennia might make it similar to the larger Nessie we think of today.”

Since the first reported sight of the Nessie in 1933, people have flocked to Scotland’s Loch Ness for a chance to glimpse the elusive and mysterious creature. Now, visitors to the Inverness Museum can view her ancestor any time they choose, and for those lucky enough to catch the lecture on the origins of the Loch Ness Monster on May 7, 2015, they will have a chance to actually hold the fossil.

Who knows, maybe Nessie is actually a “Pessie,” and you could be touching the not-so-distant relative of a legendary creature.

[Image Credit: The Daily Mail, Photo Credit Keystone/Getty Images]