The legend of Nessie is one of Scotland's most enduring folktales. The famous story of a massive sea monster hiding in the murky depths of Loch Ness has been fed onand even blurrier anecdotal sightings. But scientists do agree there once was a real sea monster haunting Scottish waters. It's called the Storr Lochs Monster.
Proof of the Storr Lochs Monster is much more substantial than anything we have of Nessie. The Jurassic predator's mostly complete fossilized skeleton turned up on the Isle of Skye in 1966.
The Storr Lochs Monster is making news now after sitting in storage for decades. The University of Edinburgh, National Museums Scotland and energy company SSE said Monday they are partnering on the first thorough study of the fossil.
The fossil, found by a power station manager on a beach 50 years ago, is a very rare discovery.
"It is the most complete skeleton of a sea-living reptile from the Age of Dinosaurs that has ever been found in Scotland," notes the University of Edinburgh.
The sea monster lived 170 million years ago and is about 13 feet (4 meters) in length. The creature was a marine-dwelling ichthyosaur with a long mouth filled to the brim with pointy teeth. An artist's concept shows a dolphin-like beast preparing to chomp down on an unsuspecting squid.
Scientists will study the fossil before it eventually goes on public display. Researchers hope to learn more about how ichthyosaurs evolved. University of Edinburgh paleontologist Steve Brusatte describes the Storr Lochs Monster as "one of the crown jewels of Scottish fossils."