The "Loch Ness eel" just doesn't have the same ring to it. Scientists who conducted a large study of DNA samples from the famous Scottish lake suggested Thursday that giant eels might be the source of "monster" sightings over the years. The researchers found no evidence the lake is home to creatures previously floated as possibilities, including sharks, catfish, sturgeon, and, sadly, dinosaur-era plesiosaurs, reports the BBC. However, they discovered Loch Ness is home to lots of eels, so much so that the "sheer volume" of DNA was a surprise, says Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago in New Zealand, per Sky News.
"Our data doesn't reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can't discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness," he says. "Therefore we can't discount the possibility that what people see and believe is the Loch Ness monster might be a giant eel." Gemmell's team didn't conduct their study to "find" Nessie but to learn more about the lake and catalog the various forms of life that have taken up residence there. And for those who still want to believe that a monster lurks, Gemmell offers some hope. "There is still a lot of uncertainty in our work," he says. "The absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence." (Perhaps the most famous photo of Nessie was a prank.)