The Loch Ness monster—known as Nessie—has remained a mystery for generations, with some claiming it’s a dinosaur that somehow survived for millions of years, a legendary beast, or something even more paranormal.
But one researcher, Steve Feltham, thinks it’s much more mundane: a catfish.
Feltham started investigating Nessie more than 24 years ago.
— TIME (@TIME) July 17, 2015
“This is an explainable phenomena. There is something to be explained in Loch Ness. Looking at all the evidence, speaking to eyewitnesses, the most likely solution is a Wels catfish,” he told Sky News.
The Wels catfish is a type of fish that can grow to be 13 feet long, weigh several hundred pounds, and live for decades. The fish isn’t native to the U.K.
“We get sonar contacts with things that are far bigger than any fish that should live in this body of water,”Feltham added. “We only get one or two decent sightings a year.” He added that catfish could be the culprit.
“I have to be honest. I just don’t think that Nessie is a prehistoric monster,” Feltham added to the Times of London.
“What a lot of people have reported seeing would fit in with the description of the catfish with its long curved back.”
Feltham quit his job 24 years ago to work on hunting the Loch Ness monster full-time.
“I certainly don’t regret the last 24 years,” Feltham said, according to Sky News, “I’m in my utopia living here on the shores of the loch.”
In 1934, the famous “surgeon’s photograph” was published, fueling even more speculation about what the Scottish monster, dubbed “Nessie,” actually is.
A study from the History of Earth Sciences Society published in April suggests that 19th-century reports of the Loch Ness monster might have been influenced by the discovery of dinosaur fossils, according to an abstract.
“Over the last 200 years, there is indeed evidence of a decline in serpentiform sea serpent reports and an increase in the proportion of reports with necks but there is no evidence for an increase in the proportion of mosasaur-like reports,” the abstract of the study stated. “However, witnesses only began to unequivocally compare sea serpents to prehistoric reptiles in the late nineteenth century, some fifty years after the suggestion was first made by naturalists.”
“After Mesozoic reptiles became well-known, reports of sea serpents, which until then had tended towards the serpentine, began to describe the monster as more and more resembling a Mesozoic marine reptile like a plesiosaur or a mosasaur,” according to the abstract. Plesiosaurs are a type of marine reptile with a long neck.
— New York Post (@nypost) April 25, 2019
Mosasaurs are large fish-like reptiles without a long neck, while plesiosaurs are amphibious and have a long neck.
William Buckland, of the United Kingdom, was the first to find dinosaur fossils in 1819.