Move over, Nessie.
Move over, Nessie—there’s a new loch monster in Scotland. Fifty years after an amateur collector discovered an enormous fossil, the remains have finally been extracted from their rocky grave.
The ichthyosaur skeleton, fondly named the Storr Lochs Monster, is about 13 feet long. It is the most intact marine dinosaur ever recovered from the area, and is being studied at National Museums Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.
When the dolphin-like creature swam the oceans 164 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic era, it likely snacked on squid and fish with its cone-shaped teeth.
“The Storr Lochs Monster highlights the rich fossil heritage of Skye,” said Dr. Nick Fraser, the keeper of natural sciences at National Museums Scotland.
In a place that’s home to spectacular cobalt-colored fairy pools, it’s no surprise that Scotland is rife with legends of sea monsters and mythical beasts. The Isle of Skye is known for its romantic and otherworldly beauty—freshwater lochs, shrub-covered moorlands, rugged mountainscapes—and seems a perfect backdrop for tales of clandestine monsters.
If you’re not convinced the only creatures in Scotland’s lochs are ancient bones, you can join the ranks of those searching for the original Loch Ness Monster. Every year, thousands compete in the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, running 26.2 miles across the scenic Scottish highlands in the hopes of taking a selfie with the infamous Nessie.
Melanie Lieberman is the Associate Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.