For centuries they’ve been a part of maritime legend, inspiring curiosity and terror in equal measure. Lurking in the depths of the oceans, shocking in size and appearance, gigantic serpents and prehistoric monsters are as much a source of fascination as ever, especially in Hollywood.
In the past two or three years alone, attacks by huge undersea beasts have provided the centrepiece battles at the ends of blockbusters such as Pirates Of The Caribbean, Clash Of The Titans and The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader.
But are such tales of strange sea beasts more than mythology? Is there any evidence to suggest that some of these monsters of the watery deep – from Jules Verne’s giant squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea to the legendary Kraken, a leviathan sending sailors to their doom – might actually exist?
Mysteries of the deep: Only this week, Margaret Flippence stumbled upon this skeleton while strolling along the beach near Aberdeen. Experts were still trying last night to work out what the mystery 30ft washed-up remains are
Certainly, the study of the possible existence of sea monsters and other creatures of legend – known as cryptozoology – remains an area that captures the imagination of scientists and laymen alike.
Last week I took part in a major debate at the Zoological Society in London at which I and my colleagues wondered whether there might be more to these stories than mere myth.
Only this week, photographs emerged of the large carcass of an unidentified sea creature washed up on the beach near Aberdeen. It is the subject of fevered speculation, with some claiming it is a sea monster and others (more sensibly) saying it’s a plain old pilot whale.