by Mark Chorvinsky
See the Rodhocetus Balochistanensis in the Extinct animals gallery
Nearly 1000 feet deep and 24 miles long, Scotland's Loch Ness is believed by many to be home to the unidentified aquatic creature affectionately dubbed "Nessie."
Since the larger public first became aware of the monster in 1933, the Loch Ness beastie has become an international media star, her most recent appearance on a commemorative stamp recently issued by the Maldive Islands. Nessie has attained the status of a classic phenomenon and her popularity endures. No other monster is as tied in with a country's image as Nessie is with Scotland. Nessie has been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, dozens of books, and has starred or co-starred in several feature films and innumerable documentaries, including an upcoming major studio release. She is arguably the best known cryptozoological creature in the world.
Nessie is certainly one of the most-sighted monsters in the world. At the age of 63, Nessie has lost none of her charisma. She often appears in advertisements (usually selling beer and spirits), is the object of sonar searches of the Loch, and/or is exploited by public relations people cashing in on her ability to attract the international mass media. And there are new sightings of the old girl every year.
If Nessie is proven to exist, British bookmaker William Hill faces a payout of over £1 million (over US$1.5). Nessie might be worth over a million to those who gamble on her existence, but to Scotland the monster has been worth millions a year as its premiere tourist attraction. Nessie has certainly come a long way since her birth in the 1930s.
There are many negatives in the search for lake monsters. Despite many credible eyewitness sightings, no live monsters have been caught after innumerable attempts in their respective lakes. No carcasses have ever been found that might be anything other than recognizable animals. It is a fact that giant nets, submarines, underwater cameras, sonar, and loch-side crews of observers have all failed to come up with the solid evidence that will prove to the world that there is a Loch Ness Monster.
On the other hand, the great number of eyewitness sightings--which show no signs of abating--make it hard to easily dismiss Nessie, who remains the Queen of all lake monsters.