Did dragons really exist?

dragon

Have we got history all wrong? Is it possible that dragons were real animals that walked the Earth and ruled the sky? Could it be that dragons lived among us?

Everybody loves a dragon. They’re a fantasy staple, appearing in dozens of books, films and TV series, from Sleeping Beauty to The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter to Game of Thrones. Sometimes they’re man-eating monsters. Sometimes they’re Toothless, the most adorable dragon ever, in How to Train Your Dragon. And they feature on numerous national flags, emblems and coats of arms, too. (I, of course, felt compelled to join in all this dragon fun when I wrote my fantasy novel, The Pendulum Swings, so I added a sassy dragon character with a deformed wing called Guibbette.)

Welsh flag

Welsh flag

Across Europe, dragons have a recognisable form. Take a look at the Welsh flag, which depicts the red Welsh dragon. These bodily features are what we imagine when we think of a dragon. The reptilian snout. The scaly hide. The bat-like wings. The four legs with eagle-like feet and talons. The long, sinuous tail with an arrow-shaped end. The reptilian tongue. And many dragons are also depicted with horns, neck frills and spines down their backs to add to their grandeur and might.

Depiction of a Chinese dragon

Depiction of a Chinese dragon

Mind you, this is just what the European dragon looks like. The other famous dragon is the Chinese dragon, which looks more like a multicoloured snake with four legs. Its reptilian snout and scaly hide are similar to its European cousin, but Chinese dragons do not have wings and are nearly always depicted with colourful flame-like frills and spines.

And while Chinese dragons are well-known for summoning rain, the European dragon has an arguably more famous trait: breathing fire.

Most people think of dragons as mythical creatures in mythical stories. Just make-believe. However, a small body of dragon believers argue passionately that dragons were real animals. Could they be onto something?

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What the hell is THAT? The curious case of the Montauk Monster

The Montauk Monster

The Montauk Monster

Meet the Montauk Monster, a bizarre, unidentified carcass that washed up on the beach in 2008 and has dumbfounded scientists and animal experts ever since…

Jenna Hewitt and three friends discovered this hideous, hairless creature on Ditch Plains Beach, just east of Montauk, New York, on July 12th 2008. Hewitt took this photograph and passed it to local newspaper The Independent. As the story circulated through Montauk, more local newspapers interviewed other residents who had seen the creature, printing stories that were seized by the world’s media and went viral.

To be honest, mystery and controversy surround just the mere discovery of the Montauk Monster, let alone what the bloody hell it is. Nobody knows where it went after it was found on that beach. The original report in The Independent said that “someone took it away” — but gave no details of who this “someone” was. Hewitt said that some guy took the carcass and “put it in the woods in his backyard”, but wouldn’t say who or where. Another Montauk resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she knew people who seen it at that person’s house. Again, she would not name the person or identify the creature’s location.

So the only physical evidence of the creature’s existence is Hewitt’s photo. This is why the Montauk Monster has been resigned to the realm of cryptozoology, because no scientist has been able to examine the remains to confirm what it is.

A dog? A raccoon? An escaped science experiment? An alien?

Plenty of experts have tried to guess what the Montauk Monster is from the photo. William Wise of Stony Brook University’s Living Marine Resources Institute said that the creature had to be a fake, because it couldn’t be anything else. It appears that Mr Wise did not entertain the possibility that it might be an alien or a science experiment. (Perhaps he’s part of the cover-up!)

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Witches, phantom dogs and pitchfork killers… Welcome to Meon Hill

witches

This week I’m getting in the spirit of Halloween by investigating the mysterious Meon Hill, on the edge of the Cotswolds in Warwickshire. It’s a place of Satanic legends, phantom black dog sightings, alleged witches and shadowy pitchfork-wielding killers. Anyone fancy pitching a tent there on October 31st?

Meon Hill is nestled between the sleepy Cotswold villages of Mickleton, Upper Quinton and Lower Quinton. An 8th century legend says that it was actually formed by the Devil. Frustrated by the growth of Christianity, the Devil chucked a large clod of earth at the recently built Evesham Abbey, intending to destroy it. However, the bishop spotted him and prayed for the clod of earth to miss its target. It did, landing and forming Meon Hill.

Another legend from Celtic Welsh folklore says that Meon Hill is haunted by the phantom dogs of Arawn, king of the ‘otherworld’. For centuries, numerous sightings of stray black dogs have been reported in the area. Black dogs are said to be nocturnal apparitions, bringers of death and agents of the Devil (think the Rottweilers guarding Antichrist Damien Thorn in The Omen).

But it’s what happened on 14th February 1945 — Valentine’s Day of all days—that really put Meon Hill on the map. This is when 74-year-old Lower Quinton farm labourer Charles Walton was murdered on its slopes.

Walton’s murder was brutal, gruesome and unusual. He was killed with his own instruments. His head was smashed in with his walking stick. His throat was cut with the trouncing hook he’d been using to trim hedges, which was found buried in his neck. And he was impaled and pinned to the ground with his own pitchfork.

There was a conspicuous further detail: a cross-shaped symbol was carved into his chest.

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I’m going to be on Spaced Out Radio! October 25th Pacific Time, October 26th London Time

spaced-out-radio-logo

Howdy!

Next week I’ll be on Canadian online radio station, Spaced Out Radio, talking to host Dave Scott about UFOs, conspiracies, time travel and general weirdness. Eeeek! I’m nervous and excited but I’m sure it’ll be great fun — for me and for listeners!

The interview, I’m told, will last two hours and Dave wants my take on some of the stranger conspiracies, mysteries and monsters  out there. I’ve certainly covered some utterly crackers theories of late! Expect talk about royal lizards and Flat Earth. Hopefully we’ll get into some time travel urban legends (my favourites) and things like the Loch Ness Monster and the suicidal munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. I’ll also make sure to talk a little bit about my conspiracy fiction writing, namely Million Eyes and the Million Eyes Short Stories, which are ultimately the reason why this blog exists.

I understand I’ll also be answering questions from the audience in Spaced Out Radio’s chat rooms.

The show broadcasts from British Columbia and will start at 9pm Pacific Time, midnight Eastern Time, and 5am London Time.

And yes, as I’m a Brit on London Time, it’s going to be an early start for me! Hopefully I’ll be coherent. Thank you Flying Spaghetti Monster for inventing coffee.

The show will broadcast live on Spaced Out Radio’s website at all the times I’ve just mentioned, and you can also listen to it on Tune In. If you’re in the UK and, like most people, your bed is more important at that time in the morning, you’ll be able to listen to the show on the station’s YouTube page afterwards. I’ll post a link on the blog when I have it. I’m also told you’ll be able to download the show from iTunes.

 

Mysterious disappearances in Yosemite National Park – could it be Bigfoot?

Tunnel View, Yosemite

Tunnel View, Yosemite

Having visited twice, Yosemite National Park has got to be the most beautiful and awe-inspiring place I’ve ever seen. But is something sinister going on there? Are people being abducted by Bigfoot or perhaps even a clandestine branch of the government?

David Paulides, an ex-cop who used to work near Yosemite National Park, has been researching the recent spate of unexplained disappearances in America’s national parks. His research includes missing persons cases in Crater Lake National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and many others. But he’s found that the largest amount of mysterious vanishings have been occurring in Yosemite.

Monsters, wild men or… pterodactyls?

Most of the disappeared are children between 20 months and 12 years old, and elderly people between 74 and 85, according to Paulides. No one carrying a firearm has disappeared. This suggests that who or whatever is picking people off is going after the weak and vulnerable.

The cases bear some inordinately strange features. In 95% of cases, bad weather follows the disappearances, washing away footprints and clues and making it impossible to carry out searches. Bizarrely, the disappearances occur in areas where huckleberries are in abundance. And in a lot of missing children cases, the children are found miles away from where they disappeared in areas they couldn’t possibly get to on their own. Some are found without their shoes – yet their feet aren’t scratched or bruised. Some aren’t found at all, but their clothes are found – as if someone or something has deliberately removed their clothes.

There’s the strange case of 12-year-old Kenny Miller, who disappeared in the Yosemite vicinity in 1992. Last seen throwing pebbles into a stream, he was out of his parents’ sights for a couple of minutes, then vanished without a trace. After several weeks, his body was found, sans some of his clothes, high up on a mountain ridge – 1,400 feet higher than where he was last seen.

The River Merced, Yosemite

The River Merced, Yosemite

Paulides also cites the case of a 2-year-old boy who went missing in Ritter, Oregon, near the Umatilla National Forest. 19 hours after his disappearance, he was found unconscious in a frozen creek bed. But in order to get there, the toddler would’ve had to run non-stop for 12 miles across two mountain peaks in those 19 hours.

One man – Charles McCullar – disappeared in Crater Lake National Park. There was very little of him left when he was found. A pair of trousers, socks, the remains of some underwear. A few bones inside the socks. A bloody tibia inside the trousers. No boots, and strangely the trousers and belt buckle were undone. It was like he’d been “melted down”. His undamaged skull and a few other small bones were found in the vicinity.

McCullar’s gruesome death raises the following questions: what happened to the rest of him, why were his trousers undone and – most significantly – how did he get to where he was found? He would’ve had to travel 14 miles over 105 inches of fresh snow in a motor-vehicle-free zone.

This chain of coincidences would seem to suggest that some kind of creature is snatching people and carrying them away. This is how they end up in areas they couldn’t otherwise get to. Maybe these creatures have some kind of sixth sense when it comes to the weather, which is how they know the best times to abduct someone. And maybe they’ve got a taste for huckleberries, too.

But what kind of creature? Native American legend talks of monsters like the Wendigo, with its glowing eyes, yellow fangs and tendency to stalk the ‘lonely places’. Then there’s the Seeahtiks or ‘mountain devils’, who were said to have terrorised Native American tribes with their hypnotic powers and superhuman strength.

And then of course there’s Bigfoot. This ape-like creature is said to inhabit forests and wilderness in America and there have been numerous alleged sightings over the last century.

An alleged photo of Bigfoot

An alleged photo of Bigfoot

However, this is all just folklore and myth, and Bigfoot is still confined to the realms of cryptozoology and popular movies like Harry and the Hendersons. Many of the sightings have been explained away as misidentified animals and hoaxes.

Jonathan Whitcomb argues that pterodactyl-like flying creatures might be responsible for the disappearances. The creatures grab their prey by their clothes, but end up dropping those who slip out of their clothes. This could explain why sometimes just clothes are found and not bodies. A creature might’ve decided to lose the clothes and go back for the body. In cases where bodies are found intact, maybe the creatures didn’t go back for them, or they tried and couldn’t find them.

This might be what happened to Kenny Miller. It’s possible he was dropped by whatever flew him away. This could be why he was found without some of his clothes, and could explain how he managed to end up halfway up a mountain. The bad weather that followed Kenny’s disappearance might be explained by the fact that the creature knew a storm was coming – perhaps by sensing the lower pressure in the air – and knew it needed to get a meal in first.

The same thing could’ve happened to McCullar, and that’s how his body ended up where it did. Though in his case, either the pterodactyl went back for him, or something else got him. There’s still the question of his undone trousers, though some have argued that he was relieving himself when he was taken.

Pterodactyls in Yosemite?

Pterodactyls in Yosemite?

Another possibility is that Yosemite and other national parks in America are inhabited by wild humans. Paulides mentions the case of a 6-year-old boy who vanished in 1969 in the Great Smoky Mountains. Those looking for him spotted a man in the bushes carrying something over his shoulder. Soon after, the United States Army Special Forces – or ‘Green Berets’ as they are known – showed up and mysteriously took over the search. But the boy was never seen again.

Paulides was told during his investigation that “wild men” were known to live in the park that the park service had not been able to control. Could tribes of these wild men be responsible for all the national park disappearances?

What’s the government’s role in all this?

What’s particularly intriguing about this mystery is the strange behaviour of government bodies connected to it.

Firstly, there’s the presence of Green Berets in the above mentioned case. Green Berets deal with special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism and what’s known as unconventional warfare. Why would they get involved in the case of a missing 6-year-old?

Then there’s the event that sparked Paulides’ investigation. It was when a couple of concerned park rangers paid him a visit. They told him that an inordinate amount of disappearances were taking place and that the National Park Service (NPS) was not dealing with them properly. As in, they weren’t conducting proper follow-up investigations and weren’t tracking the people going missing. But why?

Most disconcerting is the apparent reluctance of the authorities to hand over information about the disappearances to Paulides. The NPS and the FBI refused to disclose information about several specific cases. And when Paulides asked for a list of missing persons in Yosemite, he was initially told there were no records. Then he was told he would have to part with $34,000 in order to get them. If he wanted records for all the national parks, he’d have to part with $1.4 million.

Are these figures because they have no records and this is how much it would cost to compile them? Or are they to ward Paulides off? If the latter is true, perhaps they really do have full and complete records of everyone who’s gone missing, but those records contain things they don’t want us to know.

What could they be hiding? Is it that they know exactly what’s going on in Yosemite and they’re covering it up? Why would they do that?

Well, maybe it’s because they started it. Perhaps whatever creatures now lurk in the American wilderness are the product of a government experiment that went wrong. Maybe they have an agreement with the “wild men” of the forests. Or perhaps the government itself is abducting people for a sinister and unknown purpose.

And if it’s not them, not wild humans, not pterodactyls and not Bigfoot, there is – of course – only one culprit left.

Aliens.

Next week: the Google Conspiracy

Sources:

Article: The Secret Vanishings in America’s National Parks

LA Times.com

Article: Pterodactyl Attacks in Yosemite?

Wikipedia – Bigfoot

The truth about Loch Ness – time travel and the Taos Hum

The world's most mysterious waters?

The world’s most mysterious waters?

Loch Ness in Scotland is a hotbed of intrigue, mostly because of copious alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately dubbed ‘Nessie’. A little further investigation reveals that Loch Ness has also played host to poltergeists, the famous Taos Hum, birds going berserk and time travel. So just what is going on at Loch Ness?

In 1933, George Spicer and his wife encountered an enormous, long-necked animal, lurching across the road in front of their car and heading for Loch Ness a few metres away. This widely publicised story popularised the notion that the waters of Loch Ness are inhabited by a dinosaur-like creature.

Since then, many alleged sightings (and dubious photographs) have been recorded, and investigations and sonar studies have yielded some strange but inconclusive results. In 1954, the crew of the fishing boat Rival III observed sonar readings of a large object chasing their boat at a depth of 146 metres – then contact was lost. Biologist Roy Mackal’s Loch Ness expedition in 1970 recorded sounds that were unlike anything produced by known aquatic animals. And when 1987’s Operation Deepscan made contact with a large, unidentified moving object, sonar expert Darrell Lowrance said:

“There’s something here that we don’t understand, and there’s something here that’s larger than a fish, maybe some species that hasn’t been detected before. I don’t know.”

But the Loch Ness Monster is not the only source of weirdness at Loch Ness…

Poltergeists at Loch Ness

The notorious occultist Aleister Crowley moved into Boleskine House, a manor on the south-east side of Loch Ness, in 1899. While he was there, it is said that he was haunted by ominous dark shapes and strange winds on still days. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who bought the house in 1970, also claimed it was haunted. And aeronautical engineer Tim Dinsdale claimed to have been attacked by a mob of ghosts and demons while he was anchoring his boat near Boleskine House. After this experience, he became convinced that the Loch Ness Monster itself was a ghost, not a living dinosaur.

The Taos Hum

In 2008, it was reported that residents in the Loch Ness vicinity were being woken up at night by a strange, low-frequency humming noise. The same phenomenon had been reported in other areas of the US and the UK, initially in Taos, New Mexico, and is completely unexplainable to this day.

Only 2% of the local population are affected by the Taos Hum, which apparently sounds like a truck diesel engine in the distance, and has been known to drive people mad. Some researchers have theorised that the hum is the result of unusual sensitivity to electromagnetic noise created by the growing number of gadgets and technologies around us. Others say it’s to do with aliens or secret military experiments. Another theory is that it’s the sound of the universe expanding.

crow-158616

Blogger Sarah Hapgood reports that once when she was visiting Loch Ness, she saw all the birdlife in the area going completely berserk at around midnight – like something out of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Could this be linked to the Taos Hum in some way? Are the birds sensitive to it as well?

The time travelling couple

The most intriguing tale for me is the little-known case of a mysterious couple, cited by author Andrew Collins in his book Alien Energy.

In the mid-18th century this couple were travelling in a horse and trap near Loch End on the south side of Loch Ness – when they disappeared. Local people speculated that they had been kidnapped or attacked by outlaws and thrown into the loch.

A hundred years later, two people – a man and a woman – walked into a local almshouse to seek refuge from a storm. The priest who took them in noted that they were wearing old-fashioned clothing and were very confused, unable to explain how where they’d come from or how they’d arrived in the area. Two days later, they disappeared again.

Was it the same couple? Did the man and woman who disappeared in the mid-18th century slip forwards in time to the 19th? Did they slip back again after the two days – or to another time entirely?

Is the Loch Ness Monster a time traveller?

lochness27n-1-web

The story of the time travelling couple is an enlightening one. It’s a similar tale to the one about Rudolph Fentz, the man who inadvertently slipped forwards in time from 1876 to 1950. And there are other famous time slip cases, such as the Moberly-Jourdain Incident and the story of the Vanishing Hotel.

But what if the most famous time slip case is the Loch Ness Monster itself?

Many believe, from descriptions given by those who claim to have seen it, that the Loch Ness Monster is a plesiosaur that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. But if this plesiosaur and its ancestors have been alive for the last 65 million years, why did the sightings only start in 1933?

Maybe it’s because they didn’t survive extinction after all, and that Nessie’s presence in the 20th century is actually the result of time travel. Perhaps she slipped forwards in time from the Cretaceous Period and the reason you don’t hear much about new Nessie sightings nowadays is because she’s gone back to her own time.

Physicist Dr. John Brandenburg theorises that time travel might be the cause of lots of sea monster sightings, including the Loch Ness Monster. He says because lakes like Loch Ness have a large concentration of quartz, capable of generating enormous amounts of electromagnetism, this could’ve caused a portal through time to open in the lake. His theory is that Nessie might be going back and forth through this portal, which is why no one’s been able to find her.

And perhaps it’s the weakness in the fabric of time in the vicinity that is causing the Taos Hum and the birds to go berserk, and caused the 18th century couple to slip forwards in time?

But of course, time travel is just an unproven theory – and a plot device for Doctor Who.

Isn’t it?

Next week: the Mars conspiracy

Sources:

Sarah Hapgood – Loch Ness: Area of High Strangeness Indeed

Above Top Secret – Are Champ and Nessie Time Travellers?

James Donahue – Infamous Taos Hum That Drives People Crazy

Wikipedia

Half-fish, half-polar bear – the mysterious ‘Trunko’

Trunko & killer whales, Bill Asmussen

The world is full of stories about mysterious creatures that inhabit the ocean. One of those is the enigmatic Trunko, a half-fish, half-polar bear monster with an elephantine trunk, spotted battling two killer whales off the coast of Margate Beach, South Africa in 1924…

This astonishing encounter between two killer whales and a large creature with a trunk and white fir first appeared in an article called ‘Fish Like A Polar Bear’. Published in the Daily Mail on 27th December 1924, the article described a strange creature lifting itself out of the water by 20 feet and whacking the whales with its tail. Hugh Balance, one of the witnesses, claimed that the animal was like a “giant polar bear”, and that the whales were said to have fought the creature for three hours.

Trunko versus two killer whales – who won?

After the fight, the carcass of the creature – nicknamed Trunko – washed up on Margate Beach. Apparently the whales won the fight. Trunko was there for 10 days before getting dragged back into the water, but no scientists examined it while it was beached. Unidentified witnesses described the corpse as being 14 metres long, 3 metres wide and 1.5 metres high, having white fir, a lobster-like tail, an elephantine trunk and no blood.

A question arose over whether Trunko was really dead following an article published on 27th March 1925 in the Charleroi Mail in Pennsylvania, called ‘Whales Slain By Hairy Monster’. This story reported that, in contrast with the first article, Trunko killed the whales. He then swam ashore, fell unconscious from exhaustion, woke up 10 days later and crawled back into the sea.

Was Trunko a globster?

Since 2010, cryptozoologists have been digging up photographs taken of Trunko when he was washed up on Margate Beach. Having viewed the photos, Karl Shuker determined that Trunko was a globster.

One of the original photos of Trunko washed up on the beach

One of the original photos of Trunko washed up on the beach

For a long time, globsters or blobs (that’s the technical term) were unidentified organic masses that washed up on beaches and often lacked bones, heads or recognisable body structures. One of the earliest examples is the St. Augustine Monster, a strange, rubbery mass that washed ashore near St. Augustine in Florida in 1896.

The carcass of the St. Augustine Monster

The carcass of the St. Augustine Monster

Scientists at the time theorised that the St. Augustine Monster was the remains of a gigantic octopus – an unverified cryptid in itself. However, recent, more advanced analysis of samples taken from the carcass has confirmed that the monster was a decaying mass of whale blubber, probably from a sperm whale. This tends to be the 21st century explanation for most globsters.

On looking at the photos, Shuker decided that Trunko was nothing more than whale blubber, and that its white ‘fir’ was just exposed connective tissue fibres.

Let’s look again at Trunko’s battle with those whales…

If Trunko was indeed just a mass of decaying whale skin, how does that explain Trunko’s battle with two killer whales, which was observed by witnesses on Margate Beach?

Well, orca enthusiasts will know that killer whales have a rather charming habit of playing with their food. They’ve been known to toss seals in the air and repeatedly whack them with their tails while they’re still alive, and continue to do so after the seals have croaked.

So Karl Shuker’s theory is that the two whales happened upon this mass of decaying blubber and were playing with it, tossing it into the air and confusing observers on Margate Beach into thinking it was alive!

Next week: Were the moon landings faked?

Two new sightings of the Loch Ness Monster?

As the vote on Scottish independence looms, one of Scotland’s most famous residents appears to have weighed into the argument – the Loch Ness Monster.

It’s been reported by several newspapers over the last few days that the Loch Ness Monster – nicknamed Nessie – has registered her vote on the issue of Scottish independence and upped sticks and moved to England, making a new home for herself at Lake Windermere in the Lake District.

A new hoax? © Autographer/Rex Features

A new hoax? © Autographer/Rex Features

The image was allegedly taken on an Autographer camera that was set up to automatically take photos of the lake throughout the day by a photographer called Ellie Williams. She reported to the Daily Star that it was only when she returned to the camera and downloaded the images that she discovered an image of a dinosaur-like creature bearing a strong resemblance to Nessie.

I have no doubt it’ll turn out to be a humorous hoax, but cooked up by whom?

Let’s look at the suspects…

Perhaps it’s a conspiracy between the newspapers to give a humorous boost to the ‘no’ vote. Strangely, the Metro reported that the photographer asked to remain anonymous, and refers to the photographer as a ‘he’, even though Ellie Williams is mentioned in a number of other articles. When I visited the website of the copyright owner, Rex Features, it’s also mentioned on there that the photographer is a ‘he’ and wants to remain anonymous!

A product of Photoshop? Well, the photographers are claiming to have nothing to do with it. A man called James Ebdon, who works for Autographer and received the images from Ms Williams, has said, “Who knows what it is? Maybe some kids messing about – whatever it is we will leave it to the experts.”

So if it’s not computer trickery, could it be a model placed there by someone?

It’s not the first time a famous image of the Loch Ness Monster has been revealed to be a model. In 2012, a photo claimed by skipper George Edwards to be the most convincing photo of Nessie yet admitted a year later that it was a fake. He said the image was of a fibreglass hump used previously in a National Geographic documentary that Edwards had taken part in. He was proud to follow in the tradition of another similar hoax, the ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’ in 1934, revealed years later to be a model head and neck affixed to a toy submarine (although there are some who actually doubt the hoax story, too).

The 'Surgeon's Photograph' - the most famous of the Nessie hoaxes

The ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’ – the most famous of the Nessie hoaxes

My prediction is that it’s only a matter of time before someone confesses… After all, a second sighting of the monster was reported literally a couple of days later in the Mirror, this time back in Loch Ness. Either Nessie has developed superb intelligence and bodily flexibility, or this is another a tongue-in-cheek blow to the ‘yes’ campaign…

Is Nessie trying to tell us something? © The Mirror

Is Nessie trying to tell us something? © The Mirror

“Many a man has been hanged on less evidence than there is for the Loch Ness Monster.” G.K. Chesterton

These pictures will no doubt turn out to be hoaxes, but the idea that Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands is inhabited by a mysterious aquatic creature can be traced back to the 1st century AD. A Highlands tribe called the Picts would carve images of animals into standing stones, and one of them was of a creature known as the ‘Pictish Beast’ – the only creature not identifiable as any known animal. Then, in the 6th century, Saint Columba was walking along the shore of Loch Ness and witnessed a man being attacked by a ‘water beast’.

But the legend really gathered momentum in the 20th century. This is when all the alleged photos and sightings began, sparked by an incident in 1933. A man named George Spicer and his wife were driving on a road next to Loch Ness and witnessed “a most extraordinary form of animal” crossing the road in front of their car. A creature with a large body and a neck as wide as the road.

Since then, sightings have been numerous, even though none of the evidence for the monster’s existence is conclusive – yet.

And of course, the monster that’s been seen so many times through the 20th century can’t be the same monster allegedly seen by Saint Columba 1,500 years ago? Or the creature known to the Picts 2,000 years ago?

Can it?