04 Sep Lochness Monster
Midway into the year gone by, the zoologists and taxonomists “announced” to the world the discovery or rather “confirmed” the existence of yet another mammalian species in the planet Earth- Olinguito. This mammal from the raccoon family had until then, evaded the ever prying and curious eyes of the wildlife experts and explorers. However, the late introduction of this mammal into the annals of zoological literature is attributed to a “case of mistaken identity”. As pointed out by Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, USA:
"It (olinguito) was in museums, it's been in zoos, and its DNA had even been sequenced, but no one had connected the pieces and looked close enough to realize, basically, the significance of this remarkable and this beautiful animal,"
Awed by this piece of news in all major bulletins, question that arises now is how many more species of animals are yet to be discovered by the humans?
Over the years, there have been reports from various quarters regarding the sightings of strange animals across the globe. Conclusive reports of the existence of such animals are, however, yet to be drawn. A look into the realm of cryptozoology or the study of hidden animals gives us some fascinating information that unfailingly intrigues even the most skeptical minds.
Lochness Monster or Nessie (as it is fondly called) from Scotland is by far the most celebrated cryptid that has been reported over the ages. First sighted in 565 AD by the missionary Saint Columba, has been estimated to have been spotted by over 11,000 people in and around Lochness - one of the largest lakes in the Scottish highlands. Witnesses to the sightings of the Nessie differ in their description of the creature. Some claim it to be over 20 feet long; while others claim it is over 30 feet in length. Nevertheless, witnesses’ accounts converge on the points that the creature has a long neck and tail, which tapers down to a point. Its head is eel-like with oval eyes, and it has two humps on its back, one on each shoulder. Many people rubbish the accounts of such sightings. However, believers of the Nessie mystery produce pictures taken of the creature as irrefutable evidence of its existence. The best photographs were taken during the 1975 expedition at Loch Ness, led by Robert H. Rines. Two photographs show what looks like a flipper, perhaps 6 feet in length. Many people believe the photographs to be sham as was the case with the infamous “Surgeons Photograph” taken by Colonel Robert K. Wilson (that was eventually proven as a hoax). Hoaxes and false claims continue to augment the myth associated with the “Lochness Monster” even today. Intermittent sightings of the creature are reported every now and then.
Off late, there have been no reports of the sighting of the Nessie in the past 18 months. As reported by the “Daily Mail” UK,
“For the first time in almost 90 years no ‘confirmed sightings’ have been made of the Serpentine Scottish beast.”
Many people believe that the interest in the Lochness Monster has dwindled with the passage of time. Nevertheless, the interested and hopefuls are always on the lookout for the creature. The number of neophytes catching on to the myth of the Lochness monster is forever on the rise. Actor Charlie Sheen is also believed to have spent some time in Nessie hunting. The Loch Ness Monster has been a hot topic for debate and hypotheses since it first caught people’s attention in 1933. No wonder, Wanderlust travel Magazine has placed “Lochness Monster” on the third spot (ahead of the Himalayan Yeti) in the list of “18 Mysteries to solve in the year 2014”
Mridusmita Mahanta & Salik Miskat Borbora
(Mridusmita Mahanta holds a Masters degree in Zoology from Gauhati University and is currently engaged as a faculty in the Department of Zoology, Handique Girls’ College, Guwahati, Assam, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )