Most of us, as adults, have given up believing on anything wondrous or unexplainable. Cynicism and doubt replace our once wild imaginations, and we find even our unconscious minds concentrating on more concrete issues. Yet, even now, as I sit squarely affront to a stack of bills, a calculator, and a checkbook, a part of me still believes that there's a possibility these things really do exist.
When I was a child, I became obsessed with the existence of river monsters. Seems like a logical next step from spending night and day fawning over a Little Mermaid doll I know, but something about this was different. For the first time, I began to really study the history and scientific foundation behind a myth, and you wouldn't believe what I found: a ray of hope.
The Loch Ness Monster is by far the most famous (or infamous) of river monster-like creatures believed to exist in the world. It has been photographed on moving video and stills. There are more accounts of encounters with this beast than of close up eyewitnesses to America's Big Foot. A network of caves has even been discovered underneath the ruins of Scotland's Urquhart Castle which many believe to be the monster's home. Several scientists have studied the historical topography of the area and believe that Loch Ness was once connected via inlet to the Ocean, accounting for a variety of possibilities regarding the plausible adaptation of salt water creatures to the fresh water lake. All that aside, the most compelling evidence to support the existence of a prehistoric creature in Loch Ness, comes not from the monster itself, but from a single fish.
In 1938, an unusual find was caught off the coast of Africa: a coelacanth fish. This species, previously thought to be extinct, is over 360 million years old, and since the 1930's several of them have been caught or viewed around the world, some of them in fresh water inlets. The coelacanth is generally upwards of two meters long. Not exactly a tiny guppy that could have easily been overlooked by the scientific community. Yet, there it suddenly was. The continued existence of prehistoric fish is surely convincing argument to Nessie skeptics across the globe, but as if that weren't enough to spur serious thought, in the years since the new millennium several expeditions have returned with fascinating results. In 2006 a scientific query of the loch recorded underwater noises resembling echolocation, a means of communication commonly used amongst larger marine mammals. And in 2007 an expedition in the Sea of Cortez recorded the first underwater footage of a Giant Squid, later assumed by experts to be up to 110 feet long.
Impossible creatures are being discovered on this earth every day. So, until it's proven once and for all that there isn't a family of large plesiosaur-like animals inhabiting Loch Ness, I'll maintain that ray of hope for an existence beyond the mundane. Who knows, one of these days we might have a Nessie on display in the Museum of Natural History.