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Kiwi joins hunt for Loch Ness monster

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/04/2017

A Kiwi scientist hopes modern DNA technology may help with a very old mystery: the hunt for the Loch Ness monster.

And he says he's already had offers of help with the project.

University of Otago anatomy department head Professor Neil Gemmell says he plans to sample the Scottish lake where the legendary monster is said to reside for traces of strange DNA.

Living creatures leave cells "like dandruff" while moving through their environments, he told NZ Newswire.

"We would look to see if there's anything different to Loch Ness versus a couple of adjacent lochs.

"Loch Ness is the only one, as far as I am aware, in which these monster sightings have been recorded so there should be something a bit different about it if there is indeed a large thing present in it," he said.

He said the same method had been sensitive enough to find a single fish in a lake 20 kilometres downstream in European tests, suggesting it wouldn't have a problem finding Nessie.

The experiment would only require several two-litre samples of water from the area.

Prof Gemmell said he didn't think a negative result would put an end to the myth that brings thousands of tourists to the small lake in the Scottish Highlands.

"I don't believe it exists, but I'm open to the possibility we may be wrong," he said.

"I think it's fair to say, a negative result will still leave some level of ambiguity".

He said the project, which had started as a casual chat online six months ago, would cost about $100,000 and the planning and funding was now being worked out.

"Based on the [media] interest, I would say we will be doing it.

"There are colleagues in the UK who have already said 'We'll collect samples for you', so we have the beginnings of a team," he said.

"What we're talking about here is cheap. People have spent their lives studying this thing - 25 years in submarines up and down the loch."

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