High-Tech Hunt Unearths Movie Prop, But The Loch Ness Monster Remains Elusive As Ever

Since 1933, "1,000 sober and honest people" claim to have seen the Loch Ness monster. On Wednesday, a group of researchers, armed with a high-tech underwater robot, claimed to have found the creature hiding in the water's murky depths.

But not so fast -- that's only half-true.

They found the mysterious being, but it's not exactly the same thing those eyewitnesses claim to have seen. It's actually a nearly 50-year-old movie prop fashioned to look like Nessie, said expert Adrian Shine, according to The Guardian.

"We have found a monster, but not the one many people might have expected,"
Nonetheless, the discovery is the latest of several made by the underwater robot called Munin. It has also found a shipwreck and disproved the existence of the creature's lair, "Nessie's Trench." But the real monster remains as elusive as ever.

The movie prop's story has less mythological mystery than Nessie, but it's still an interesting yarn.

The monster prop was built by special effects man Wally Veevers, for the 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. The film starred Robert Stephens as the detective and Christopher Lee as his brother, Mycroft.

The model was 30-feet long and built with a neck and two humps. But the director, Billy Wilder, didn't like the humps and wanted them removed. The production team tried to warn him that it wouldn't float without them, and then -- "the inevitable happened. The model sank," Shine said.

On that day, actor Genevieve Page said that Wilder comforted Veevers as his creation disappeared into the water.

About 47 years later, the prop was found at a depth of 590 feet, resting on the lake bed, the New York Times reported.

In The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, the Loch Ness monster is debunked as a fake. The plot sees the famous sleuth investigating a woman's missing husband, a search which takes him to the famous lake. There, he encounters the monster, which turns out to be a submarine.

Shine, the Loch Ness expert, doesn't believe in the fabled monster any more than Sherlock Holmes. His research project, Operation Groundtruth (which includes the underwater robot) has actually shifted its focus from finding Nessie to studying human perception and how our own two eyes often lie to us.

He thinks "1,000 sober and honest people" have seen the creature and many continue to believe it exists "because we want it to be true." So far, the lake has been thoroughly searched and the Loch Ness monster has not been found.

Even if the fabled creature is a figment of our own imagination, Operation Groundtruth has made some fascinating, real discoveries.

Munin is owned by a Norwegian offshore oil company called Kongsberg Maritime, Discovery News added, and has created the first high-resolution map of the 755-foot-deep lake. The lake is hard to explore because of its depth and steep side walls, but it's no match for Munin.

"The vehicle is providing insight to the loch's depths as never before imagined. Finding Nessie was, of course, an unexpected bonus," said Craig Wallace, a Kongsberg Maritime engineer.

Using sonar-imaging technology, which it usually uses to find downed planes, the robot has already disproven the "Nessie's Trench" theory and discovered a 26-foot-long shipwreck with unknown origins.

Besides the shipwreck and Loch Ness monster model, the lake has also coughed up a Wellington bomber from World War II; a century-old Zulu-class sailing fishing vessel; and the remains of the craft Crusader, which crashed at 200 mph in 1952 when John Cobb attempted a speed record.

"There is always more to learn about Loch Ness," Shine told the Herald Scotland as the robot keeps looking.

The Loch Ness monster rakes in $85 million in revenue for Scotland's tourism industry. But the chief executive of VisitScotland, Malcolm Roughead, is excited about what Munin could find -- even if it's nothing at all.

"No matter how state-of-the-art the equipment is, and no matter what it reveals, there will always be a sense of mystery and the unknown around what really lies beneath Loch Ness."
[Photo By Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]