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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Pensioner finds 'Nessie' fossil
Fossil
Experts say the find is not related to Nessie
A Jurassic fossil discovered in Loch Ness by a Scots pensioner could be the original Loch Ness monster, according to Nessie enthusiasts.

The fossilised remains of a 150-million-year-old plesiosaur was discovered by pensioner Gerald McSorley, from Stirling, submerged in shallow water on the bank of the loch.

The long-necked, carnivorous sea reptile which ruled the world's seas between 200 and 65 million years ago - during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods - bears a striking resemblance to modern images of the Loch Ness monster.

Experts have described the find as extremely interesting, but stressed that it is not related to the famous creature.

Loch Ness did not exist until the last Ice Age - which finished about 12,000 years ago.

The find is very interesting because nothing of its nature has ever been discovered on the shores of the loch before
Dr Lyall Anderson
National Museum of Scotland
The fossil clearly shows four perfectly preserved vertebrae, complete with spinal chord, and blood vessels, set in grey limestone.

Scientists at the National Museum of Scotland confirmed that the find - the first of its kind in Scotland for more than a century and the first ever at Loch Ness - is evidence that the 35-ft-long monster once existed in the area.

Nessie hunters, who are keeping the exact location of the find a closely guarded secret, will now search the area further for more extensive remains.

Mr McSorley, 67, found the fossil after stumbling in shallow water near the bank of the loch.

More searches

"I literally tripped over the fossil in the water," he said.

"When I put my hands down to steady myself I saw something unusual and picked it up.

"Once I had cleaned off about an inch of green algae, and I could see the texture of the bone, it became clear I had an important fossil. "

Mr McSorley took his find to the National Museum in Edinburgh, where scientists confirmed it was of an adult plesiosaur.

Gerald McSorley
Gerald McSorley discovered the fossil

Mr McSorley, a former scrap merchant, added: "I have always believed in the Loch Ness monster, but this proves it for me.

"The resemblance between this and the sightings which have been made are so similar."

Dr Lyall Anderson, a curator at the National Museum who has examined the fossil, said it formed part of the backbone of a plesiosaur which would have existed in Scotland between 150 and 155 million years ago.

He said: "The find is very interesting because nothing of its nature has ever been discovered on the shores of the loch before.

"It could be that further remains exist in the same area.

"The closest we have is the discovery of plesiosaur fossils at Eathie on the Moray Firth 150 years ago."

Gary Campbell, the president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, said it was possible that it was a fossil which originated in the local area.

"On the other hand it could have been planted - probably not by the man who found it, but we have a history of things being planted on the loch conveniently for people to find," he speculated.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Craig Swan reports
"Mr McSorley literally stumbled across his discovery"



SEE ALSO:
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01 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
White witch to tempt Nessie
11 Jun 03  |  Southern Counties
Nessie pictures reawaken legend
09 Sep 02  |  Scotland
Baton fails to snare Nessie
09 Jun 02  |  Scotland
Battle brewing over Nessie hunt
21 Mar 01  |  Scotland
Storm hits Nessie 'fishing' plan
24 Oct 00  |  Scotland


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