Professor Neil Gemmell, leading a team from the University of Otago in New Zealand that took DNA from the 23-mile lake, told the BBC: “We’ve tested each one of the main monster hypotheses and three of them we can probably say aren’t right and one might be.” ‘Nessie’, as the mythical beast is often endearingly dubbed, is commonly regarded as being large in shape with a long neck and possessing humps that protrude out of the Loch in the Scottish Highlands. Scholars have found a handful of reports of Nessie since 500AD but the creature had not gained worldwide fame until 1933.
A couple told a paper in Inverness that they had seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface”, prompting Nessie to become an overnight sensation.
Loch Ness became a tourist destination but despite reports of sightings and footprints being found, the scientific community has so far refused to accept its existence.
Reports have been attributed to hoaxes and wishful thinking.
Professor Gemmell’s team sent the DNA, which AOL reported as containing skin, scales, feathers, fur and faecal matter to labs in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and France for testing.
The geneticist described the results as “significant” and announced they will be released in September 2019.
Theories as to Nessie include one that she is a plesiosaur that survived the extinction of dinosaurs or is a giant sturgeon or catfish.
Other theories include Nessie being a bird wake, a large eel or an elephant from a travelling circus allowed to relax in the water.
As part of an investigation for television series River Monsters, zoologist Jeremy Wade concluded he believed Nessie was a Greenland shark, which can grow to 20 feet in length.
Professor Gemmell said: “We’re delighted with the amount of interest the project has generated in the science and, monster or not, we are going to understand Loch Ness, and the life in it, in a new way.”
Tourism bosses have said they are “eagerly anticipating” the results with Nessie raking in millions for the Scottish economy every year.
Nessie has been a popular item in books, music, film and television having captivated audiences around the world for over 80 years.