The idea of the legendary Loch Ness Monster as being a long-necked, prehistoric-reptile-like beast was inspired by Georgian Era ‘dinomania’, a new study concludes.
Researchers analysed statistics on hundreds of alleged sightings of sea monsters that had been documented going back as far as the early 19th Century.
They found that the popular idea of what a sea monster should look like changed over time — moving away from snake-like forms to long-necked creatures.
The change followed the first discoveries of dinosaur and marine reptile fossils, the experts note, like the long-necked plesiosaurs that lived over 66 million years ago.
Charles Paxton of the University of St Andrews and palaeontologist Darren Naish of the University of Southampton have used statistical techniques to pull out trends in reports of sea monsters dating back as far as 1801.
The duo scoured 1,688 historical reports — including first-hand testimonies, newspaper accounts and books — which covered 1,543 alleged monster sightings.
The researchers omitted obvious hoaxes from their study.