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Moroccan fossil find could make Loch Ness Monster’s existence ‘plausible’

LONDON: Dinosaur fossils discovered in Morocco have fueled speculation that the existence of Scotland’s famous Loch Ness monster could be “plausible”.

Experts from the University of Bath in England recently discovered the fossilized remains of plesiosaurs in a 100-million-year-old river system in Morocco’s Sahara Desert, suggesting that the long-necked creatures once thought previously marine, could live in fresh water.

Enthusiasts have long speculated that the mythical creature, nicknamed “Nessie”, could be related to the plesiosaur, as tales and grainy images of it suggest it has fins, a long neck and a little head. But, until now, the tentative theory had been dismissed by the belief that plesiosaurs lived only in salt water.

Dr Nick Longrich, co-author of the paper on the discovery, told the Telegraph: “We don’t really know why plesiosaurs are in fresh water. It’s a bit controversial, but who’s to say that because we paleontologists have always called them “marine reptiles”, they had to live in the sea? Many marine lineages have invaded fresh water.

Longrich’s co-author Dave Martill, a professor of paleobiology at the university, said: “What amazes me is that the ancient Moroccan river contained so many carnivores all living side by side.”

The find, including the remains of adults and juveniles, suggests the creatures lived alongside frogs, fish, turtles and other large predators including crocodiles and the dinosaur Spinosaurus, known to frequent aquatic habitats .

The paper suggests that heavy tooth wear of plesiosaurs similar to that found on Spinosaurus teeth in the region implied that they fed on the same diet, supporting the theory that they lived at least semi-permanently in the same ecosystem.

The university said the Moroccan fossils showed “Nessie” to be “on some level, plausible”, while also saying the fossil record showed the species had been extinct 66 million years ago.

The first known plesiosaur was discovered in Dorset, England, in 1823, and was given its name, meaning “near lizard”, because it was thought to be closer on the evolutionary scale to lizards. current than other prehistoric reptiles found in the region.

The creatures swam by flapping four fins like a turtle and roamed Earth’s waters from the late Triassic 215 million years ago until the end of the Cretaceous, when many dinosaurs and other species also disappeared.

The mystery of Loch Ness and its monster gained popularity in the late 1800s based on ancient Celtic myths. But links to the plesiosaur became widespread after a veterinary student named Arthur Grant claimed to have almost hit the beast as he rode past the loch on his motorbike in 1934, claiming it looked like a seal but with a long neck and a small head.

That same year, the Daily Mail newspaper was tricked into publishing a photo claiming to be the monster, again with a long neck and a small head, floating in the waters of Loch Ness, which later turned out to be a hoax. sent to the newspaper. by a former mail clerk.

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