The genetic hunt for the Loch Ness monster © Getty Images

Neil Gemmell: The genetic hunt for the Loch Ness Monster

Professor Neil Gemmell on his project to survey the genetic diversity of Loch Ness using cutting-edge environmental DNA techniques, and maybe find clues about the Loch Ness Monster.

For years rumours have abounded that a mysterious creature is lurking in the murky depths of Loch Ness. The only trouble is, save for a few blurry, unconvincing photographs and videos, no one has ever managed to find even the slightest scrap of evidence that it actually exists.


Several previous scientific expeditions searching for the beastie using sonar beam and satellite technology have all drawn a blank but now a new search launched by geneticist Neil Gemmell promises to be our best hope of tracking down Nessie to date.

Gemmell and his team are analysing eDNA, or environmental DNA, the genetic material – skin, feathers, excrement – left behind by organism living in the water of the Loch, to search for clues of its inhabitants much like a forensic scientist does when looking for DNA evidence at a crime scene.

In this Science Focus Podcast, BBC Focus’ commissioning editor Jason Goodyer speaks to him about how the project got started, how the technique works, and what he hopes to find.

You can find out more about eDNA and the hunt for Nessie in issue 329 of BBC Focus magazine.

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